Pakistan backs the US-led campaign against terrorism but a comprehensive approach that includes political solutions is needed to tackle the problem, Pakistan’s new prime minister told US President George W Bush.
Bush called Yusuf Raza Gilani on Tuesday, hours after President Pervez Musharraf swore him in and as US envoys, Deputy Secretary of State John Negroponte and Assistant Secretary of State Richard Boucher, sounded out Pakistan’s new civilian leaders on militancy.
Musharraf, a former general who seized power in a 1999 coup, has been a staunch US ally since the 9/11 attacks but he has become increasingly isolated after his allies suffered defeat in the parliamentary polls.
Analysts say the US wants to ensure the new coalition government maintains Musharraf’s commitment to tackling militants.
“Pakistan would continue to fight terrorism in all its forms and manifestations since it is in Pakistan’s own national interest,” Gilani told Bush, according to a government statement. “However, he said that a comprehensive approach is required in this regard, specially combining a political approach with development programmes,” the government said.
His comments came after former Premier Nawaz Sharif told two US envoys that the new government would review President Pervez Musharraf’s “one-man” anti-terror strategy and focus on Pakistan’s needs.
Meanwhile, the US President has cleared the way for giving millions of dollars to Pakistan to fight terrorism this year, the White House said on Tuesday.
In a memo to the secretary of state dated Monday, Bush used his authority to exempt Pakistan from a law that restricts funding countries where the legitimate head of state was deposed by a military coup. The waiver, which Bush has approved every year since 2003, opens the way for the US to provide about $300 million this year to boost Pakistan’s counter-terrorism operations.