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Bush calls Musharraf at last, strongly backs new Govt

world Updated: Aug 22, 2008 09:50 IST
Arun Kumar
Highlight Story

At long last President George Bush talked to former Pakistan president Pervez Musharraf and followed it up with a call to Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani to convey strong US commitment to the new government.

The call to Musharraf came three days after the resignation of the former military ruler, whom Bush called a "personal friend". His administration was for long considered an "indispensable" ally to the US in the war on terror.

"President Bush advised Prime Minister Gilani that he had just spoken this morning to former President Musharraf," White House spokesman Gordon Johndroe told reporters near Bush's Crawford, Texas, ranch Thursday.

Bush told Gilani he "had wished president Musharraf well and thanked him for his efforts in the democratic transition of Pakistan as well as the fight against Al Qaeda and extremist groups".

Bush also expressed to Gilani "the United States' strong commitment to working with the prime minister and the government of Pakistan to address the ongoing battle against extremists and to assist Pakistan through its current economic situation", Johndroe said.

The separate calls to Musharraf and Gilani followed a new wave of suicide bombings in Pakistan. The latest attacks occurred Thursday at the nation's main weapons complex, not far from Islamabad.

Dozens of people were killed and with scores seriously injured the death toll is expected to rise. The twin suicide bombings were among the deadliest attacks in the country in recent years and Pakistani Taliban militants have claimed responsibility.

Johndroe said during the call to Gilani, Bush expressed his condolences and told him that the extremists behind these attacks pose a threat not just to Pakistan and the US, but to the world.

The two leaders "reaffirmed their mutual support for going after these extremists that are a threat to both Pakistan, the United States and the entire world", he said.

Musharraf resigned Monday to avoid impeachment. President Bush has often referred to him as a strong ally in the war on terror. But there have been concerns in Washington in recent months that Pakistan has not been doing enough to go after extremist and terrorist elements in the tribal region along its border with Afghanistan.