US says not interfering in Pakistan’s internal process


Washington : The United States said it has not taken sides in Pakistan’s internal political process but wants to be able to work fully with its government to pursue common long-term interests in counterterrorism, and democratic and economic development of the South Asian ally.

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“We have a long-term interest and a long-term investment in Pakistan, and we want to be able to work fully not only with yesterday’s government and today’s government but with future governments, because our interests in Pakistan are long-term,” the State Department said Friday afternoon, while noting Pakistan’s key importance and commonality of interests between the two allies.

Spokesman Tom Casey stated in response to a question at the daily briefing “how Pakistanis, how their democratically elected leaders intend to organize their government, develop their policies and manage their own internal political process-that really is something that is theirs to decide.”

“The United States did not, before the election or during the election process, nor are we now going to try and take sides in that or interfere in those internal discussions,” he added.

He recognized the vital significance of democratic process following last week’s widely hailed elections that gave moderates political forces a clear majority in the parliament at a time when the country is confronting terrorism challenges. Casey described the February 18 election as “victory for democracy.”

“What’s going on in Pakistan right now is very important. This is a real development in Pakistan’s return to what we hope ultimately will be full democracy there and it’s a very important moment for Pakistan’s political leadership. And they’ve got to make these choices for themselves and really only they are in the position to do so.”

However, he added, “that’s not to say the United States doesn’t have interests in Pakistan.” Casey said the US has a “clear national interest in being able to work closely to confront extremism and terrorism in the region, as well as help it advance on the path of democracy and economic development.

“We believe that we share a lot of common needs, common desires and common values with the Pakistanis,” Casey observed.

Citing the US commitment to economic development of Pakistan including remote tribal areas as reaffirmed by Deputy Secretary John Negroponte at a congressional hearing Thursday, the spokesman said there was a lengthy discussion there as well about what we can do in the future to be able to assist Pakistan in the years ahead.

“Because the important thing is that Pakistan well beyond any time—and I hope there will be a time in the not-too-distant future—where extremism is not such a threat to all of us, Pakistan is going to be an important country in the region and in the world. It’s going to be an important partner for the United States in all kinds of areas.”