Pro and anti-Musharraf forces in verbal duel ahead of US Senate meeting

December 6th, 2007 - 1:09 pm ICT by admin  

Washington, Dec 6 (ANI): Pakistani Americans and representatives of President Pervez Musharraf engaged in a verbal duel ahead of a crucial US Senate hearing today to consider whether Americas pro-democracy laws should be applied to curtail US aid to Pakistan.
“We understand that you are upset with recent developments in the country,” said President Pervez Musharrafs special envoy, Nasim Ashraf, while addressing a select group of Pakistani-Americans at the Pakistan Embassy here.
“But do not take your anger to the Hill,” he appealed.
“That is precisely what we need to do,” said Zafar Iqbal, a physician, who heads the Asian American network against abuse of human rights.
“We need to take the case to the Hill and urge the members of Congress to support the people, not an individual.”
Ashraf and two other envoys, Kashmala Tariq and Mohammed Ali Saif, fear that taking the matter to the Hill could lead to a reduction in US aid to Pakistan.
“And, if that happens, we are all going to regret it,” warned Ashraf.
“I was shocked and ashamed to see that our own Pakistanis are participating in this campaign,” said Tariq.
Both pro and anti government groups have arranged two separate meetings on the Hill. Both spent the whole week trying to rope in as many US lawmakers to their gathering as possible.
Pro-democracy groups want the US Congress to back Senator Joseph Bidens proposal to triple non-security aid to Pakistan to 1.5 billion dollars a year for at least a decade.
They also favour a “democracy dividend” of additional one billion dollars for the first year of democratic rule, the Dawn reported.
They say that future non-security aid should be tied to Pakistans progress in developing democratic institutions and meeting good-governance norms.
The proposal also calls for strict restrictions on US military aid to the country if Musharraf does not restore democracy.
“We strongly support this proposal,” said Dr Iqbal. “The aid should encourage democracy, not despotic rule,” he added.
Pro-democracy groups also distributed a study by the International Crisis Group, an EU-backed NGO which calls for conditioning non-counter-terrorism US aid to democracy.
On the other hand, the envoys, however, blame former Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry and the Supreme Court for plunging Pakistan into its present crisis.
They referred to five earlier judgements by the same court to justify the 1999 military takeover, the holding of two offices by Musharraf and his other decisions. (ANI)

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