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No aggressive designs against anyone: Gilani

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* PM says armed forces capable of dealing with internal, external challenges
* Praises PAF’s preparedness for anti-terror operations

THAL COMPLEX: Pakistan does all it can for peace in a stable environment in the region, and the country has no aggressive plans against anybody, Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani said on Tuesday.

Addressing a gathering after witnessing a firepower demonstration by Pakistan Air Force (PAF) aircraft marking the conclusion of the first phase of the ‘High Mark 2010’ exercise, Gilani said although Pakistan had no aggressive plans, the country needed to put its defensive capabilities to test.

He said there was a need to view challenges confronting the country in the context of changes that had “shaped the geopolitical landscape of the world”.

He said Pakistan’s defence forces were fully capable of dealing with internal and external challenges, and expressed satisfaction over the PAF’s preparedness for anti-terrorism operations. He said PAF’s speed, accuracy and strength were clearly visible in the firepower demonstration.

Gilani praised the PAF for undertaking the exercise despite its commitments in the ongoing counter-terrorism operations. He said ‘High Mark 2010’ not only portrayed the true potential of the PAF, but was also an indication of the force’s “superior professionalism, incomparable skills and matchless team work”.

The prime minister said he had been particularly impressed by “a superb display of a rescue operation by a combined team of the PAF and army commandoes”. He said he was aware of the pressing requirements of the armed forces – especially the PAF, which comparatively required more funding. “I also realise that there is a need to maintain the cutting edge of a force that is the pride of the nation and second to none.”

Earlier, Air Chief Marshal Rao Qamar Suleman, in his inaugural address, said the next phase of the exercise and joint operations with the army would begin “tomorrow”.

He said changes were necessitated by PAF doctrines, and it was now the time to test the true potential of the force. He reiterated that the PAF would continue improving itself to strengthen the defence of the country.

The air chief later presented a memento to the prime minister depicting ‘High Mark 2010’.

The exercise – which began on March 15 and would culminate on May 15 – is being conducted over the entire country from Skardu in the north to the Arabian Sea in the south.

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