US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s appears to have succeeded in persuading warring political leaders in Pakistan to soften their attitudes towards each other, the US media reported on Saturday.
Various US television and radio networks noted that soon after Secretary Clinton called President Asif Ali Zardari, a presidential spokesman announced in Islamabad that the government will restore the deposed judges in the light of Charter of Democracy and will file a review petition in the Supreme Court to undo the disqualification of Sharif brothers.
A spokesman for opposition leader Nawaz Sharif later described these decisions as ‘a corrective measure,’ the US media noted.
US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton spent 25 minutes, discussing the current political situation in Pakistan with President Zardari on Saturday.
Then she called Mr Sharif and had a similar conversation with him, the reports said.
The official press release, issued in Islamabad, however, gave the impression that Mrs Clinton telephoned the president to discuss ‘regional and bilateral issues and the forthcoming ‘Friends of Democratic Pakistan’ meeting in Tokyo next month.’
‘She said the US will support Pakistan to recover its economic strength and stability. She said the United States will support Pakistan in every possible manner to tide over its difficulties,’ APP reported.
The official statement had only one sentence about the Zardari-Sharif imbroglio, saying that Mrs Clinton also ‘discussed the prevailing situation in Pakistan and said the US was keen to see a stable and democratic system strengthened in the country.’
A spokesman for Mr Sharif, however, acknowledged that Mrs Clinton ‘urged a settlement through negotiations’ when she poke with the PML-N leader.
The US media, however, reported that Secretary Clinton conveyed America’s concerns over the current situation to both leaders, telling them that their squabbles could plunge Pakistan into deep political and economic crises.
The New York Times noted that the involvement of senior American officials had prompted ‘speculation … that the United States was trying to broker a deal that would ease the standoff between the rivals and end the potential for violence.’
The Washington Post reported that besides Mr Zardari, Secretary Clinton also spoke to Mr Sharif and his brother, Shahbaz, on the political situation.
The report noted that Mrs Clinton’s calls came after ‘hopes for a compromise faded when a senior official said Mr Zardari was refusing to cave in to pressure unless Mr Sharif abandoned his support for the long march.’
An AP report on the secretary calls to the Pakistani leader, published in several US newspapers, blamed President Zardari for ‘deepening the crisis by dismissing the provincial administration in Punjab.’
‘The Obama administration apparently fears that the rising tensions between the politicians could further derail Pakistan’s efforts to quell a growing insurgency by al Qaeda and the Taliban,’ The New York Times noted.
But no report conveys US concerns on the current situation in Pakistan more vividly than a front page story on the official Website of the US Department of Defence.