Concerned US wooing Sharif to deal with militancy

May 2nd, 2009 - 1:40 pm ICT by ANI  

Nawaz Sharif Washington, May 2 (ANI): The Obama Administration is reaching out more directly than before to Pakistan Muslim League (N) chief Nawaz Sharif, main rival of President Asif Ali Zardari, as the US loses confidence in the Pakistani Government in wake of the relentless advance of the Taliban.

Some Obama Administration officials’ think that Sharif’s close ties with Islamists in Pakistan could be useful in helping Zardari’s Government to confront the stiffening challenge by Taliban insurgents.

The move reflects the heightened concern in the Obama Administration about the survivability of the Zardari Government, The New York Times reports.

General David H. Petraeus, the head of the United States Central Command, has said in private meetings in Washington that Pakistan’s Government is increasingly vulnerable, according to administration officials.

Washington has a bad history of trying to engineer domestic Pakistani politics, and no one in the administration is trying to broker an actual power-sharing agreement between Zardari and Sharif, administration officials say.

But they say that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and special envoy Richard C. Holbrooke have urged Zardari and Sharif to look for ways to work together, seeking to capitalize on Sharif’s appeal among the country’s Islamist groups, the paper reports.

Some Pakistani officials said that members of Zardari’s government were already reaching out to Sharif and that officials in Washington were exaggerating their influence over Pakistani politics.

Obama administration officials have been up front in expressing dissatisfaction with the response shown by Zardari’s government to increasing attacks by Taliban fighters.

A US Defence Department official said Obama is “gravely concerned” about the stability of the Pakistani Government; and described Zardari as “very, very weak.”

The official said the administration wanted to broker an agreement not so much to buoy Zardari personally, but to accomplish what the administration believes Pakistan must do.

“The idea here is to tie Sharif’s popularity to things we think need to be done, like dealing with the militancy,” The NYT quoted the official, as saying. (ANI)

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