Obama, McCain welcome Musharraf resignation

August 19th, 2008 - 10:46 am ICT by IANS  

Washington, Aug 19 (IANS) The two leading US presidential candidates have welcomed the resignation of Pervez Musharraf as Pakistan president saying it should help Islamabad focus on the fight against Al Qaeda and violent Islamic extremism in a critical theatre.While Democrat Barack Obama called it “the right decision” that would help end the political crisis that has immobilised the coalition government for too long, Republican John McCain said it was “a step toward moving Pakistan onto a more stable political footing.”

“President Musharraf has made the right decision to step down as President of Pakistan,” said Obama. “It is in the interests of his country and the Pakistani people to end the political crisis that has immobilised the coalition government for too long.”

Reiterating that the central terrorist threat to the US “lies in northwest Pakistan and Afghanistan, and not Iraq,” he said: “US policy must focus on assuring that all elements of Pakistan’s government are resolute in shutting down the safe havens for Al Qaeda and the Taliban.”

“There can be no safe haven for terrorists who threaten the American people,” said Obama recalling that a year ago, “I advocated that the US move from a ‘Musharraf policy’ to a ‘Pakistan policy.’”

“I hope all of Pakistan’s friends will now seize the opportunity created by Musharraf’s exit to focus on the urgent issues of today: confronting the threat of extremist violence, dealing with food and energy shortages, and helping the Pakistani people build a stable, secure, democratic future.”

Describing the resignation of Musharraf as “a step toward moving Pakistan onto a more stable political footing,” McCain said: “Pakistan is a critical theatre in countering the threat of Al Qaeda and violent Islamic extremism, and I look forward to the government increasing its future cooperation.”

“There are serious problems that must be addressed. The situation in Pakistan’s frontier regions requires immediate and continued attention, and I hope that the elections for President Musharraf’s successor will serve to reconcile the Pakistani people behind a leader who can solidify their government internally.

“It is critical that the United States continue to work in partnership with the Pakistani people and their democratically elected government to tackle the many challenges we both face,” McCain said.

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