US denies managing Pakistan politics

October 13, 2007

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WASHINGTON, Oct 12: The US State Department has rejected the suggestion that Washington is micromanaging Pakistan’s internal affairs to ensure that new political developments do not affect Islamabad’s resolve to fight terrorism.

“I would certainly take exception to the idea that the United States is somehow stage-managing, guiding or otherwise telling Pakistanis how to run their own internal affairs,” State Department’s deputy spokesman Tom Casey told a briefing in Washington.

“My limited knowledge of both the president of Pakistan as well as with key opposition figures is I don’t think we’d be particularly successful if we tried to somehow impose a decision on either of them,” he said. Mr Casey made these observations while commenting on reports in the Pakistani media that the US was trying to micromanage political arrangements in Pakistan. The spokesman was also asked to comment on a Dawn report that Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice telephoned President Gen Pervez Musharraf and former prime minister Benazir Bhutto last week to discuss a power-sharing deal between the two.

“I’m not sure when was the last time she spoke with President Musharraf,” said Mr Casey. “But certainly, she has in the past and she always conveys to him our understanding of what we’d like to see happen and encourages him to move forward in terms of the democratic developments of the country.”

The State Department official rejected the suggestion that Assistant Secretary of State Richard Boucher was deeply involved in arranging political deals in Pakistan.

Some Pakistani politicians recently claimed that Mr Boucher was so deeply involved in Pakistani politics that he exchanges SMS messages with senior presidential aide Tariq Aziz in Islamabad over internal political developments.

“I don’t know how Richard’s thumbs work. Let’s see if he can do instant messaging or not,” Mr Casey said.

He said it’s important to remember that the decisions on Pakistan’s political future were going to be made by Pakistanis themselves. “We certainly have a clear and consistent message in our conversations, whether it’s with government officials or opposition officials,” he said.

The official said the United States shares the vision for Pakistan’s future which had been laid out by President Musharraf and others: Pakistan as a peaceful, democratic, moderate Islamic state and one that works with the US to fight extremism and terrorism. “That is something that’s free advice, offered freely among friends,” he added.