April 2005 News

US Says Amicable Kashmir Solution Very Near

29 April 2005
The Nation

Washington DC: Mike Green, Senior Director and Special Assistant to President Bush at NSC White House, Thursday said Pak-US relations were broad-based, multi-faceted and multi-year, and that 'we are in for a long haul'. He said this at the White House briefings held at the Old Executive Building for the delegates of Association of Pakistani Physicians of North America (APPNA) Executive Council, which is now in Washington for spring meetings. Green cited the close Pak-US cooperation in the ongoing war on terror. He was speaking on 'Impact of India-Pakistan Relations on the Future of Sub-Continent and Asia'. Referring to the 9-11 Committee Report, he said the Capitol Hill demonstrated that very commitment, and added, 'today, there is a bipartisan commitment with Pakistan.' He said cooperation in the war on terror was continuing, and the close personal understanding existing between President Bush and President Musharraf was an important element, which lends strength to this bilaterally fruitful relationship. He reminded that there had only been 'a handful of world leaders' who had been invited to Camp David and President Musharraf was 'one amongst them'. The official said in the wake of 9-11, President Musharraf 'took a prompt, bold and historic decision to side with forces determined to defeat terrorism, and the decision was not risk- free, but he courageously took it, and the United States appreciates it very much.' 'In fact, the United States had sought help in the war on terror against Taliban and Al-Qaeda.' He also referred to the military operation launched in FATA, and said this was a region which even Alexander the Great, was unable to enter. 'President (Bush) recognises that tough stand against terrorism.' He referred to the stated presence of foreign fighters in the tribal belt along Pak-Afghan border and the combing operation launched by the Pakistan Army, which had suffered casualties for the greater cause. He said Pakistan was extending valuable intelligence sharing. On F-16s, Green said: 'It is a symbolic decision to erase impression that US was a fickle-minded or unreliable friend, and we took the decision in the interest of Pakistan's security.' Ms Xeina Dormandy, Director South Asia, NSC, said beside the $3 billion multi-year US assistance package, the United States was extending $300 million every year for health and education sectors in Pakistan. She said the USAID has resumed its work, and it was now vigorously working in Pakistan. She said people-to-people contacts between both the countries were now expanding, and the members of the Congress are convinced that Pak-US relations should expand further. He said a number of development projects were continuing in Pakistan, under the auspices of USAID, State Department and various NGOs. In respect of democracy, he said President Bush and President Musharraf issued a joint statement in New York in September 2004, which reiterated commitment to democracy, and which had been described as an indispensable factor. On democracy, he said Pakistan had certain traditions which necessitated improvement. In this area, the official said, President Musharraf had taken steps, and efforts were visible on creation of an enabling environment and capacity building through training, which involved civil society. 'President Bush likes leaders who speak straight, and he's very frank,' he said, referring to the dialogue President Bush had with President Musharraf. Green said the United States appreciated the vision of enlightened moderation espoused by President Musharraf 'which is an enlightened vision of Islam in the 21st century'. About Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz, the official commented that 'he (the Prime Minister) is an expert in economic affairs,' and referred to 'the remarkable' economic progress attained by Pakistan in the recent years. On tackling the core issue of Kashmir, he said in the wake of thaw in Pak-India relations and improvement of ties, we would be nearing to an amicable resolution of the issue. 'The bus link is very symbolic and engaging, and it has really turned the corner; and that softening of the known respective stands is very much visible.' 'The prospect is good,' was his crisp comment to a question as to what was the future of bilateral talks. People-to-people contacts, he stated, would lead to 'further flexibility and resolution of issues'. He said Pak-India peace process was taking roots, 'in the wake of a number of bilateral and varied' confidence-building measures. About India, he said, the US had an independent and close strategic relationship with India, which was a multi-ethnic society, with rich democratic traditions. He told a questioner that India wanted 'a new chapter with Pakistan', and it was trying to improve its relations with Pakistan and China, as well as with its other neighbours like Nepal, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka. To a question, the Advisor to President Bush said Pakistan's economy was improving, and the future of Pakistan should be prosperous, as Shaukat Aziz's focus on economic growth was good. Responding to a question, he said there had to be hope for civil society. He said: 'Musharraf is a military man - he is a strategist who identifies problems; and, he has a strategy for capacity building.' The official praised efforts under way in Pakistan for sustainable democracy order. Chuck Rosenberg, Chief of Staff to Deputy Attorney-General, James Comey, US Department of Justice, speaking on 'Patriot Act and Civil Liberties', said it was a misunderstood enactment, though it was an effective tool to enforce security of the US society. 'It has nothing to do with enemy combatants, Guantanamo Bay prisoners or Abu Ghraib.' He dilated on the legal history and need for having this updated tool. He said those critical, often cited provisions of 'sneak and peak operations' in the Act. Rosenberg made it clear that legal course was followed in seeking judicial permission, and that the law enforcement personnel did not act on their own. A plea on the basis of probable cause is formulated and the judges determine validity and authorisation. 'It has been an ordinary tool that has been there for decades.' Ombudsman Parkash Khatri of US Department of Homeland Security spoke on 'Update on Immigration and Citizenship Laws'.


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