Pakistan congratulates Obama, sees improved ties


Islamabad : Pakistan’s president, premier and opposition leaders Wednesday congratulated US president-elect Barack Obama on his watershed win, saying they were looking forward to promoting peace and stability in the region with his cooperation.

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“President Asif Ali Zardari has expressed the hope that Pakistan-US relations will be enhanced under the new American leadership that received a popular mandate in Tuesday’s poll,” said Husain Haqqani, Pakistan’s ambassador to the United States, reported the state-run Associated Press of Pakistan.

Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani said in a separate statement that the elections marked “a new chapter in the remarkable history of the United States.”

“For long, the ideas of democracy, liberty and freedom espoused by the United States have been a source of inspiration for the millions around the world. I hope that under your dynamic leadership, the United States will continue to be a source of global peace and new ideas for humanity,” he said in a letter to Obama.

Gilani also congratulated vice president-elect Joe Biden, reminding the new administration that it is taking charge at a time when the world faces multiple challenges.

He, however, made no mention of the strained relations between Islamabad and Washington, two key allies in the fight against terrorism. US forces have launched several attacks on suspected Al Qaeda hideouts and Taliban militants in Pakistan from bases in Afghanistan in recent weeks, prompting outcries from the Pakistani government.

Khurshid Ahmad, a senator from Jamaat Islami, the nation’s largest Islamist party, warned that if Obama did not review the aggressive policies of outgoing president George Bush, “peace in Pakistan and Afghanistan would remain a dream.”

Nawaz Sharif, a former premier and current leader of the opposition party Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz, said he hoped that, under Obama, the United States would abandon the policy of supporting military dictators, like the former president Pervez Musharraf.

“We are confident that under your wise and sagacious leadership, Pakistan’s relationship with the United States will be established as a genuine partnership between two peoples who treasure freedom, passionately believe in democracy and espouse partnership and engagement among all nations,” Sharif said.

Muslim Khan, a spokesman for the Pakistani Taliban said the change in the US administration would be meaningless until US forces were pulled out of Afghanistan and Iraq.

“If Obama continues the previous policies in Afghanistan and Iraq and he obstructs the enforcement of Islamic Sharia in Pakistan, we will continue our armed struggle against the United States,” he said.