Mar 13, 2009

UK, US try to pacify political crisis in Pakistan

By Syed Irfan Raza

President Asif Ali Zardari, who is co-chairman of the PPP and PML-N chief Nawaz Sharif have come under tremendous international pressure on Thursday to resolve the prevailing political crisis in the country.

Zardari received a series of telephone calls from US President Obama’s Special envoy to Afghanistan and Pakistan, Richard Holbrook, British Foreign Secretary, David Milliband and the US Ambassador in Islamabad Anne Petterson. Later, the US Ambassador called on Nawaz Sharif and governor Punjab Salman Taseer.

Representatives of the US and the UK governments told President Zardari that political instability in Pakistan weakens their efforts on the war on terror and thus political unrest should be overcome otherwise it will help militants to reorganise and emerge with more force to meet their agenda. The US and the UK leaders were of the view that political mayhem in Pakistan is creating a vacuum in the country leaving the militants unchecked.

It is expected that after these talks, some major developments will take place in the country’s political arena before the lawyers’ long march reaches Islamabad on March 16.

The long march backed by the main opposition party (PML-N) has been kicked off to press the government to reinstate judges, including Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, who were deposed with the imposition of emergency rule by former President Gen (retd) Pervez Musharraf on November 3, 2007.

Spokesman for the President, Farhatullah Babar officially confirmed that Zardari was contacted by US envoys and UK foreign minister by telephone.

An official announcement said a triangular telephonic conference was held Thursday night among President Asif Ali Zardari, President Obama’s Special envoy to Afghanistan and Pakistan Richard Holbrook and the US Ambassador in Islamabad Anne Petterson.

Following the telephonic conversations, President Zardari called Governor Punjab Salman Taseer and other PPP leaders in the province to the presidency and had a detailed meeting on the long march issue, sources said.

The meeting is considered quite significant in the back drop of concerns shown by the US and the UK governments.

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