View Full Version : Pak Party Warns U.S. Over Support For Musharraf

03-10-2008, 09:04 AM
Pak Party Warns U.S. over Support for Musharraf


Written by Yaniv Berman
Published Monday, March 10, 2008

The Pakistan Muslim League- Nawaz (PML-N), which, after the recent parliamentary elections became Pakistan’s second-largest party, has called on the United States to stop any "undue support" for President Pervez Musharraf, who it described as a military dictator.

Yesterday (Sunday), it was agreed that the PML-N would form a coalition government with the Pakistan People's Party (PPP), headed by Asif 'Ali Zardari, widower of Benazir Bhutto.

Musharraf's party, which has become one of the smallest in the parliament, will not be part of the coalition. It is not yet clear what effect this will have on Musharraf's power, however local experts are already speculating as to the possibility of his resignation.

Musharraf has, since the 9/11 terrorist attacks, been one of the United States' most important allies in the Middle East. His recent resignation from the position of army chief, along with his party's defeat in the February 18 elections, may now jeopardize Pakistan's relations with the U.S.

The former Pakistani Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) chief, Lt.-Gen. Hamid Gul, has said that the coalition agreement between the PPP and the PML-N will disappoint the U.S. and that it was bad news for Washington. Talking to a private TV channel on Sunday, Gul said that by signing this document the two leading parties had refused to accept American direction.

In an attempt to calm possible American administration fears, spokesman of the PML-N, Ahsan Iqbal, told The Media Line that, "whether Musharraf stays or goes, certainly the two countries will continue to do business."

Iqbal pointed to the "long history of good relations" between Pakistan and the U.S., stressing that his country was not seeking a relationship with the U.S. that was based on personalities. Iqbal nevertheless warned the U.S. not to view Pakistan through the prism of Musharraf.

"Musharraf has been defeated in the elections by the people. So if the U.S. continues to support a military dictator, who has been defeated by the people of Pakistan, then certainly the relationship between the two countries may become strained at the people's level."

According to Iqbal, the U.S. must respect the democratic verdict of the people of Pakistan, "which is for change, and which wants Musharraf to go."

Therefore, the U.S., in order to maintain its good relations with Pakistan, must base its relations on reciprocity and strong bilateralism, Iqbal stressed.

So far, the U.S. administration has not formally contacted the PML-N. However, U.S. Ambassador to Islamabad Anne W. Patterson has twice met with party officials.