‘Review US policy towards Pakistan’

November 14th, 2007 - 2:06 am ICT by admin  
Experts, who appeared before the committee during a three-hour long hearing on Pakistan, also urged the US to reach out to Pakistan’s civilian leaders and promote fair and free elections.

The US should prepare for “the likelihood that the political power equation in Pakistan will change, and (needs to know) what that could mean for the US-Pakistan security relationship,” said Congressman Duncan Hunter, a ranking Republican member of the committee.

Lisa Curtis, a South Asia expert at Washington’s Heritage Foundation, told the committee that even if there is a change of government in the US, “pursuing a strong and stable relationship with Pakistan will be one of America’s most important foreign policy objectives for several years to come.”

Curtis pointed out two irritants in this relationship: Pakistan’s failure to root out terrorist ’safe havens’ in its tribal areas and a US legislation conditioning military assistance to Pakistan to its performance in the war against terror.

This legislation is causing doubts about the US being a reliable long-term partner, the Dawn quoted Curtis, as saying.

Curtis warned that Washington should not repeat the mistakes of the past, and recalled how a similar law, known as the Presslar Amendment undermined US-Pakistan relations in the 1990s.

She acknowledged that Pakistan faced a complex situation in the tribal areas “where the local populations share a Pashtun identity with about 30 per cent of the Pakistan Army.”

Teresita Schaffer, a former US Ambassador and now Director of the South Asia programme at the Centre for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, urged the US to seek deeper ties with Pakistan and engage the Pakistani nation and “not just to think in terms of this individual or that individual.”

Schaffer predicted that President Pervez Musharraf’s election would eventually be confirmed by the Supreme Court.

The legislative elections will be held in January, which will produce an “uneasy” government with the President remaining the one power centre since he believes in “unity of command”, and is not interested in power sharing.

Schaffer warned that the new government’s biggest challenge would be a “nasty and violent” campaign by extremists who had been brazenly defying the government’s authority since the Lal Masjid’s takeover. (ANI)

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