March 28, 2008

Inappropriate timing

Filed under: FOREIGN RELATIONS,NEW GOVERNMENT AFTER MARCH 24-2008 — civilsocietypakistan @ 6:32 pm


MARCH 28, 2008

UNDOUBTEDLY, the Americans would be keen to see the new government in Pakistan remain on its right side, continue to pursue the policies of the Musharraf regime and keep fighting what they call the War on Terror, the issue that has raised the country’s international profile as highly important strategically. They would, understandably be anxious to gauge the feelings of the PPP and the PML-N leadership towards this major foreign policy concern of theirs. Nevertheless, Washington should not have acted in such utter haste and sent officials to make contacts with winning political parties when they are in the process of forming a coalition government. It should have waited till the new ruling leadership had time enough to synthesise the various viewpoints of its component parties in the context of future policies that could have an impact on Islamabad’s relations with it. At this stage, the superpower appears to be pressurising them to fashion these policies to suit its interests. This attitude could even prove to be counterproductive. However, it is hard to believe that Mian Nawaz Sharif, who has been outspokenly opposed to US pressurising tactics, should have found it convenient to meet the two State Department officials while policies were being evolved.
On Wednesday, Deputy Secretary of State John Negroponte and Assistant Secretary of State Richard Boucher also met Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gillani. While stating that his government comprising moderate and democratic forces would fight terrorism in all its manifestations, Mr Gillani told them that Parliament being sovereign, all decisions on issues of national interests would be taken through it. But he appropriately added that the world community had to do more in order to develop a collective approach towards the scourge. For Pakistan, it was a matter of concern and would be confronted with full determination. The Prime Minister also referred to the telephonic conversation he had with President Bush and talked of the priority Pakistan attached to its strategic relations with the US. On his part, Mr Bush had assured of Washington’s full support to Islamabad in every sphere of life and Mr Negroponte voiced the US desire for a multifaceted and stable relationship with Pakistan.
The US and the West would have to give due consideration to Pakistan’s oft-repeated view that to fight terrorism, its root causes have to be addressed in all sincerity. Unless they give up their policies of political and economic exploitation around the world, there can be no assurance of peace and security. 


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