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In Pak's best interest...

Good relations between India and Pakistan are more in latter's interest, says political commentator and journalist Najam Sethi.

india Updated: Jun 27, 2006 14:52 IST

Good relations between India and Pakistan are more in Pakistan's interest than India's, says a prominent Pakistani journalist and political commentator.

"At the end of the day, it is Pakistan that has suffered in all conflicts," Najam Sethi, well-known editor of the Daily Times, told PTV in an interview.

On how the US viewed South Asia, Sethi said: "The US is not concerned about who is getting powerful and it only watches its own interest. Now it is moving towards a strategic relationship with India over the head of Pakistan."

He lamented that despite well meant advice, President Pervez Musharraf was not doing enough to "spread consensus and legitimacy" among various forces in the country to usher stability.

A direct result of this was that the US had developed a negative opinion of Musharraf's performance and was concerned about the future of Pakistan's polity.

In particular, Sethi said, American think tanks were concerned that Musharraf had not put a system in place in Pakistan that would "ensure the continuity of his good work when he is no longer in power."

Sethi said that during his visit to the US last year, he met officials from four major think tanks and all them were supporting Musharraf and had little interest in Nawaz Sharif and Benazir Bhutto, the two former prime ministers now living in exile.

But when he visited this year, the situation was different. "All the think tanks seemed very critical of General Musharraf.

The State Department and Pentagon are supporting Musharraf but the think tanks have moved away from him. Now they are talking about a post-Musharraf period and think that he is history," Sethi said.

He said that the US think tanks fear that "if something happens to Musharraf, who has already been the target of several assassination attempts, or there is a crisis of legitimacy surrounding his position, then there is no political system in place to continue Musharraf's good work.

He said that the US Congress takes suggestions from think tanks through its sub-committees, and the Congress-suggested cut in US aid to Pakistan was a reflection of the mood of the think tanks.

On the security front, Sethi said that Pakistan's nuclear arsenal falling into the hands of radicals was a nightmare scenario that the West considered a possibility.

Commenting on the situation in Afghanistan, Sethi said that previously India supported the Northern Alliance and Pakistan the Taliban, but the scenario changed when the Northern Alliance, with the help of the US, dislodged the Taliban regime.

"It is a dilemma for Pakistan that if it fully supports Karzai then the Northern Alliance is strengthened.

If Musharraf supports the Taliban then the US gets angry and if he weakens them then India's influence in Afghanistan increases," he said.

He said that the US was not interested in understanding this problem, as "the US would see only its own interests."