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'Zardari's move a first step towards political reconciliation'

world Updated: Mar 17, 2009 09:14 IST

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US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Tuesday said the measures taken by Zardari Government to resolve the confrontation with opposition parties are the first step towards a political reconciliation in Pakistan.

"I believe that the resolution that they have agreed upon is the first step of what has to be an ongoing reconciliation and compromising of political views that can stabilise civilian democracy and the rule of law," Clinton said at the Foggy Bottom headquarters of the State Department.

Clinton had telephoned the Pak President, Asif Ali Zardari; the Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani and opposition leader Nawaz Sharif, on Saturday as Pakistan appeared to be plunging into a deep political turmoil.

The State Department said Clinton offered them friendly advice on to resolve the political difference through dialogue and through non-violent means. "I did speak with both President Zardari and Nawaz Sharif," she said acknowledging having played a role in helping the Pakistan Government come out of the political crisis.

Clinton said stabilisation of civilian democracy and the rule of law are "essential to the efforts that the Pakistanis themselves see as so critical; namely, preventing extremism and violence from stalking the Pakistani people and the country."

Clinton said the leaders of Pakistan understand "what is at stake". The Pakistanis themselves resolved the difficulties that were manifest over the last several days, she said.

Referring to the several rounds of talks by her officials with the Pakistani leaders, she said, "The work that was done by our Ambassador (to Pakistan) Anne Patterson and the Embassy staff, along with our Special Representative Richard Holbrooke and his staff, was very helpful in both working with the Pakistani leaders themselves and in keeping our government informed."

Clinton said the Obama Administration would continue to work with the Pakistani leaders. "We are going to continue our very close working relationship with the government and a number of Pakistani leaders in the days and weeks ahead."

Another round of tri-lateral meeting involving Afghanistan and Pakistan is on the cards in the next few months. "So there will be an ongoing effort to make our services available and to help the Pakistanis fight against our common enemy," she said.

Prime Minister Gilani on Monday announced reinstatement of the deposed chief justice and to file a review petition challenging the order barring Nawaz Sharif and his brother from contesting elections and holding any public office.

Following the decision, Sharif and the lawyers, agitating against the decision and participating in a long march to Islamabad withdrew their agitation.