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Pakistan will not permit US micromanagement: Qureshi

world Updated: Oct 07, 2009 10:26 IST
Arun Kumar
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Stung by the tough counter-terrorism conditions attached to the unprecedented five-year, $7.5-billion non-military aid programme approved by the US Congress last week, Pakistan has said it would not brook any interference in its internal affairs.

"We have in President (Barack) Obama and Secretary (Hillary) Clinton two individuals who want to befriend Pakistan, the people of Pakistan," Pakistan's Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi said Tuesday after a meeting with Clinton focusing on the Afghan situation and American aid.

"And I'm very clear they have no intentions of micromanaging Pakistan. Nor will Pakistan permit micromanagement. I am very clear in my mind that they have no intentions of trampling on Pakistan's sovereignty."

The aid package conditioned on Pakistan ending support for extremist groups targeting US and neighbours like India and its military staying out of civilian politics has been widely criticised by Pakistanis who fear it would lead to American interference in their country's affairs.

Clinton said the United States has no such intention. "I regret that some people do not understand," she said. "...This is a sincere effort put forth by our Congress, with the full support of President Obama and myself to assist the people of Pakistan."

US officials say the aid programme will require an expansion of the US embassy in Islamabad and security there with a greater presence of US security contractors - a concern highlighted by the bombing of the United Nations World Food Programme office in the Pakistani capital this week.

The Pakistani minister said that the United States must reassure the people of his country and neighbouring Afghanistan that it has a "long-term vision" to stabilise the region.

Qureshi declined to comment on whether the Obama administration should send more troops to Afghanistan. But he said that stability in region depends on the United States sending a message that it is prepared for a major commitment to boost economic prosperity and combat extremism.

"The people of the region have to be reassured that the United States has a long-term vision, not just for Afghanistan and Pakistan, but the entire region," he said.

"And when I say that, we have to keep in mind history. We have to keep in mind the past. Right and the inconsistency of the past has to be kept in mind, and we have to build on learning from the mistakes of the past."