WASHINGTON, Feb 19: The United States said on Tuesday that it will continue to work with President Pervez Musharraf and will also cooperate with whoever forms the new government.
At a briefing in Washington, US State Department spokesman Sean McCormack stressed that America’s main interest was to ensure that Pakistan continues to play its role in the fight against extremism.
“We are going to continue our work with President Musharraf and whatever that new government may be on goals of our national interests,” the spokesman said.
Emphasising that America’s commitment was to the people of Pakistan, and not to any individual, the US official also made it clear that Washington does not have favourites among the politicians who won the Feb 18 elections.
“Fundamentally, regardless of who’s sitting in the prime minister’s chair or the foreign minister’s chair or the defence minister’s chair, primarily, that’s our interest, is remaining committed to the Pakistani people,” Mr McCormack said.
“So we’re going to work with President Musharraf. We’re going to work with this new government on those issues, and toward those goals that are in our national interest.”
Mr McCormack explained why Washington wants to put together an alliance of moderate forces in Pakistan.
“We have a deep national interest in fighting violent extremists, breaking up those terrorist cells that may either operate from or from time to time operate from Pakistani territory,” he said.
He pointed out that the United States is particularly interested in continuing the fight against the Taliban and Al Qaeda extremists in the tribal belt.
“We have a real interest in maintaining that relationship of cooperation, fighting terrorism with Pakistan, and remain committed to the Pakistani people in helping them realise a different, more democratic, more prosperous future,” he said.
Mr McCormack said it was still too early to say if the US would receive better political cooperation in the war against terror from the new government than it did from President Musharraf.
“I don’t know what government will come out of these elections,” he said. “We’ll probably have a better read on what the precise results will be maybe a week from now or so, once all the votes are tallied and they’re able to apportion seats based on the votes and based on their specific accounting rules.”
While PPP’s victory in Monday’s election is welcomed in Washington, PML-N’s emergence as the second largest group in the new parliament creates new problems for American policy makers.
The Bush administration has been reluctant to build a relationship with PML-N because it believes the party has had links with religious groups in the country.