Democrats set against offering blank cheque to Musharraf

August 12th, 2008 - 10:37 pm ICT by IANS  

A file-photo of Pervez Musharraf
By Arun Kumar
Washington, Aug 12 (IANS) Amid reports that Washington may be willing to ensure a respectable stay for a beleaguered Pervez Musharraf, the Democratic Party is set against offering a blank cheque to Pakistan’s “undemocratic President” with the country’s tribal areas becoming a “sanctuary for Al Qaeda”. “We cannot tolerate a sanctuary for Al Qaeda. We will ask more of the Pakistani government, rather than offer a blank cheque to an undemocratic President,” said the party in its draft platform for the November 2008 presidential poll.

The document now goes for adoption to the Aug 25-28 Democratic party Convention in Denver where presumptive nominee Barack Obama is expected to be anointed as the presidential candidate.

“The greatest threat to security in Afghanistan and America lies in the tribal regions of Pakistan, where terrorists train and plot attacks and then strike and move back across the border,” the draft said.

“We need a stronger and sustained partnership between Afghanistan, Pakistan and the NATO, including necessary assets like satellites and predator drones, to secure the border by wiping out terrorist camps and cracking down on cross-border insurgents,” it added.

Asserting that the US should help Pakistan develop its own counter-terrorism and counter-insurgency capacity, the party said it will invest in the long-term development of the Pashtun border region so that the “hate crime by extremists is met with an agenda of hope”.

The Democratic party’s tough stand on Musharraf came amidst reports that while Washington may not want to interfere in the impeachment process against him, it may be willing to help ensure “full indemnity” and “honourable stay” in Pakistan for its key ally in the war on terror should he agree to quit.

The US Ambassador to Pakistan Anne Patterson had during a recent visit to Washington consulted senior White House and State Department officials on the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP)-led ruling coalition’s decision to impeach Musharraf, according to diplomatic and US official sources cited by Pakistani daily Dawn.

While the coalition declared its plans to impeach Musharraf following Premier Yousuf Raza Gilani’s return from the US, diplomatic sources cited by the paper said his government had consulted both Americans and the army prior to the announcement.

The Americans told the Pakistanis they wanted to stay neutral on this issue and would support any move which was “consistent with the rule of law and the Constitution,” it said.

The coalition government in Pakistan also wanted some senior US official or lawmaker to publicly persuade Musharraf to quit, an approach similar to the one adopted in case of Philippines dictator Ferdinand Marcos in 1986.

The US, however, preferred to remain neutral on the issue while appearing willing to use its influence to arrange for a secure and honourable stay for Musharraf in Pakistan should he agree to quit, the sources were quoted as saying.

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