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Assessment of Musharraf not changed: US

The US says it plans to extend more support to the General as it feels he has not yet reached the "end of his line".
PTI | By HT Correspondent, Washington
UPDATED ON MAY 17, 2007 12:03 PM IST

The US has stressed there is no change in its assessment about Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf, who is in the midst of a crisis sparked by the suspension of the chief justice, and said it plans to extend more support to the General as it feels he has not yet reached the "end of his line".

The US administration's comment came during a briefing here when officials were asked about Washington's assessment about the situation in Pakistan following clashes between supporters of Musharraf and the suspended Chief Justice.

The US expressed relief that the violence in Karachi was subsiding but said there were issues to be sorted out in the South Asian country.

"In terms of the situation in Pakistan itself, we're pleased to see that the violence that occurred in Karachi has stopped. The issues that are there in the Pakistan political system are ones that need to be resolved peacefully and through their own legal and constitutional procedures," State Department's Deputy Spokesman Tom Casey said.

"There is going to be an important election coming up in Pakistan. It is...In everyone's interest to see that Pakistan develops as a moderate Islamic country that continues to be a good ally with the US in the war on terror and continues to help support its neighbour in Afghanistan deal with the ongoing threat posed by the Taliban," he added.

"But, again, I don't think our assessment has fundamentally changed about him (Musharraf) or his role in Pakistani society," Casey said.
In Islamabad, the US special envoy to the region Ronald Neumann said Washington may continue to back Musharraf and even increase the support to him. "I don't think that President Musharraf has reached the end of his line."

"He (Musharraf) seems to be a leader who is capable of many good things, which is why we have given him a great deal of support, and plan to give more support," Neumann told the media in Pakistan's capital on Wednesday.

The reinforcement of US support to the General comes in the backdrop of remarks by the Pakistan President's prominent supporter and Sindh Chief Minister Arbab Ghulam that "Allah, Army and America" continued to back Musharraf.

Musharraf is facing his worst crisis sparked by the suspension of Chief Justice. On the issue of crackdown on Taliban and Al Qaeda, Neumann, however, asked Musharraf to do more.

Musharraf had done much, but "not reached his full capacity" in dealing with terrorism and extremism, he said adding "in fact everybody has to do more to help restore peace and stability in Afghanistan. We all need to get forward".

The overall situation with regard to the Taliban was better than a year ago, he said. "I am not trying to tell you that everything is good in Afghanistan. I said I'm relatively more optimistic that I was before," the US envoy, who was here for talks with Pakistan's National Security Secretary Tariq Aziz, said.

He also lauded Musharraf's role in the war against terrorism, saying he is a frontline ally in the war against terrorism but he can take more steps that could bring peace and stability in the region.

On the erection of a fence at the Pak-Afghan border which was opposed by Kabul, Neumann said both sides will have to mull the matter more seriously and reach a solution with mutual understanding.

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