US for ‘hands-off’ approach on government making in Pakistan

March 12th, 2008 - 2:01 pm ICT by admin  

By Arun Kumar
Washington, March 12 (IANS) The US says it is looking forward to working with the new Pakistan government once it is formed, but it’s completely up to political leaders there to work out new power sharing arrangements. Washington would work with the new dispensation in Pakistan with special focus on “the continuing fight against terrorism, our counter-terrorism efforts”, State Department spokesman Sean McCormack told reporters Tuesday.

“I know that that is an issue of interest to the government of Pakistan and certainly to the people of Pakistan.”

But in terms of power-sharing arrangements, it “is completely up to the Pakistani political leaders to decide upon how they are going to arrange themselves who has what cabinet portfolios and all of the things that come along with forming a government,” he said, suggesting a hands-off approach on the part of Washington.

“We are in contact with political leaders from across the political spectrum in Pakistan. But no, the decisions about forming a government and who sits where and who does what are entirely up to the Pakistani political leaders,” McCormack said, broadly repeating what US spokesmen have been saying since the elections in Pakistan.

Asked what Washington wanted from Pakistan under its new dispensation in terms of fighting terrorism, McCormack said: “Well, they’ve come a long way in fighting terrorism. There’s always room for improvement. You could say the same thing about us as well as others around the world.

“We have military-to-military contacts that go back some ways, but that’s not something that’s new. It goes back quite some time and I would expect that they would continue in the future,” he said.

Asked to comment on former secretary of state Henry Kissinger’s view that while both stability and democracy should be US goals in Pakistan, the timelines can be different, McCormack said: “Well, we think stability and democracy go hand-in-hand.

“We believe that it is vitally important that the Pakistani people have faith in their governing institutions as well as their government and their political processes. That is going to be something that is a bulwark against violent extremists and terrorists.

“Sadly, violence is not something that’s new to Pakistan. Over the past six years, the Pakistani government has made great strides in fighting violent extremists and fighting terrorists. There is still more left to be done. There’s a certain core element that you’re going to have to deal with security services and security means.

“But some of the most important efforts are going to be made in broadening and deepening political and economic reforms so that you have more of the Pakistani population bought into the political process, more of the Pakistani people that have a stake in the Pakistani economy. That ultimately is going to provide your best guarantee against the spread of terrorism and violent extremism,” McCormack said.

“In terms of the US government, it is going to work with the new Pakistani government once it is formed on issues of mutual concern, and certainly fighting terrorism is one of those.”

Asked if the US was concerned about an increasing confrontation between the parliament and the president’s office in Pakistan which Musharraf had in an interview suggested will be “catastrophic”, the official said: “Well, in any democratic political system, there are going to be tensions.

“That’s the way political systems are set up. Usually, there is a balance of power,” he said. “Now how those questions are decided, in terms of what the outcomes to the questions are, those are going to be entirely up to the Pakistani people and Pakistan’s political leaders.”

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