ISLAMABAD - President Asif Ali Zardari on Thursday called upon the international community especially the United States to step forward and prepare a `Marshall plan’ for Pakistan for strategic economic stability and advancement of Pakistan’s development agenda.

The people of Pakistan had suffered greatly as a result of the ongoing fight against militancy and terrorism and there was need for the international community to give our people the peace dividend by way of massive economic assistance, energy development and greater market access.

The President said this during his one on one and delegation level meetings with US Secretary of State John Kerry at the Aiwan-e-Sadr.

Spokesperson to the President Senator Farhatullah Babar, while briefing about the meetings said that Secretary Kerry congratulated the President on the peaceful and democratic transfer of civilian power in the country and lauded his overseeing various phases of the smooth transition.

He termed the smooth power transfer a significant milestone in Pakistan’s democratic progress and said that people of Pakistan have affirmed commitment to democratic rule, which he said is critical to achieving peace and prosperity.

Thanking John Kerry, the President stated that the credit for first ever smooth power transfer went to the democratic forces, all the political parties, the Parliament and all the people of Pakistan for enthusiastic participation in the electoral process despite threats from militants and extremists.  The President said that smooth transition reflected the democratic ethos of the people.

The President also appreciated John Kerry’s support to the people of Pakistan.

On drone attacks, Zardari said that the drone strikes in FATA by the US violates Pakistan’s sovereignty and territorial integrity and was also negatively impacting on the mutual desire of both countries to forge a cordial and cooperative relationship and to ensure peace and stability in the region.

President Zardari called for an end to the drone attacks and said that these strikes are counter-productive, entails loss of innocent civilian lives and also fuels anti-American feelings. The President called for sustainable and positive relationship between Pakistan and United States on the basis of mutual respect, mutual trust and mutual interest.

The goal of establishing a long-term and durable Pak-US equation would remain elusive till the issue of trust deficit is addressed in an effective manner, he said.

He urged the need for enhanced trade and investment ties between the two countries and increased market access of Pakistani goods to the US.

The President stressed for closer cooperation in areas such as economy, trade, energy, socio-economic development, agriculture and water issues, science and technology and defence cooperation.

He urged the need for more concerted steps on both sides to double the trade volume from existing US $5.1 billion between the two countries.

Discussing regional situation, the President said that Pakistan believed regional peace and security was vital for its own peace, security and development.

He reiterated Pakistan’s commitment to continue to play its helpful role at restoring peace, stability and development in Afghanistan and in the region.

The President said Pakistan supported an Afghan-led and Afghan-owned peace process and welcomed all efforts being made for finding a peaceful solution to the long drawn conflict in Afghanistan.

Discussing militancy and terrorism, the President said that Pakistan has suffered the most in terms of human and financial losses in the ongoing fight against militancy and reiterated that Pakistan will continue to fight the menace till its logical conclusion.

He ,however, called for a Marshall Plan for Pakistan to overcome the problems in the wake of fight against militancy. Those who were present during the meeting included US Ambassador Richard Olson, John Bass, Executive Secretary State Office, James Dobbins, special representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan and other senior officials. Pakistan side included Sartaj Aziz, Adviser on National Security and Foreign Affairs, Spokesperson to the President Senator Farhatullah Babar, Foreign Secretary Jalil Abbas Jilani and Secretary to the President Nasreen Haq.

COAS, ISI DG meet Kerry

NNI adds: With United States likely to withdraw its troops from Afghanistan in 2014, United States Secretary of States John Kerry discussed security issues with Pakistan Army Chief and Director General of Inter Services Intelligence (ISI).

General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani and DG ISI Zaheerul Islam met with John Kerry to discuss regional situation.  They also discussed various issues during the meeting including Afghanistan issue.