Saturday, September 11, 2004

US acknowledges Pakistan's role in war on terror

US acknowledges Pakistan's role in war on terror: "US acknowledges Pakistan's role in war on terror

Washington: The United States has said that Pakistan, its key ally in the war against terror, had stopped supporting al-Qeada and the Taliban militia in Afghanistan soon after the September 11 attacks and helped America in its fight against these outfits.

Three years ago, the regime in Pakistan was supportive of the Taliban militia and President Pervez Musharraf knew what was going on with respect to al-Qaeda and the US had a strained relationship with Pakistan, Secretary of State Colin Powell said.

After the September 11 strikes, the US worked closely with Pakistan and suggested to Musharraf that it was time to make a strategic decision and to move away from his old position, Powell told students of the Georgetown University. He said the US authorities, especially Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage, told the military ruler to do certain things.

"We talked about it" and Musharraf said "I will do all of these things," Powell added.

Powell said Musharraf reversed the direction in which Pakistan was moving and assisted the US in its efforts to go after al-Qaeda and remove the Taliban regime. "We have worked closely with Musharraf over the last three years. We have watched as (the) Parliament started functioning again. There is a new Prime Minister whom we know very well, Prime Minister (Shaukat) Aziz," he said.

To a question whether the US backing to 'undemocratic regimes' could be termed as hypocritical, Powell defended Washington's stance, saying Pakistan has an aggressive media and there was freedom of opinion throughout Pakistan.

Even though the Parliament was "fractious" things were "moving in the right direction" in Pakistan, he said, adding "these things don't happen overnight."