Friday, February 22, 2008

U.S. Ambassador Anne Peterson should leave Pakistan

Yusuf Nazar

The U.S. Ambassador is blatantly interfering in Pakistan's internal affairs and trying to influence the formation of a new government in Islamabad. The New York Times (Feb. 22) reports, " as the negotiations proceeded between Mr. Sharif and Mr. Zardari in the last two days, political circles here were awash with talk that Washington was interfering, trying to micromanage a process in which the Bush administration has much at stake.

The impression that the United States was meddling was fortified Wednesday when Mr. Zardari was summoned to the American Embassy for a meeting with the ambassador, Anne W. Patterson. Afterward, Mr. Zardari was portrayed as a creature of the Americans who wanted him to work with Mr. Musharraf, a negative perception for a politician in a country where recent polls show the United States has a favorable rating of just 16 percent."

This seems like a crude attempt by way of a 'careful leak' apparently made through the U.S. diplomatic channels to belittle Mr. Zardari and defame him since he has apparently refused to play ball with the Americans and has opted to work with the PML(N) whereas the Bush administration officials want him to work with Musharraf and his allies in the PML(Q) - a group called as political orphans by late Benazir Bhutto.

According to a report (Feb. 22) in the News International by its correspondent Ansar Abbasi, "although, Zardari did not talk of Washington's pressures, sources in the party confirmed that the Americans had brought tremendous pressure on the PPP co-chairperson to make a coalition government with the likes of the PML-Q and MQM but not with the PML-N.

The N-League's foremost priority for the reinstatement of the deposed judges is not getting approval from Washington despite the fact that within Pakistan this is the most popular demand of the masses. Not only the Americans are directly influencing the party to make what many see as an "artificial" coalition government in Islamabad, some pseudo intellectuals are also pursuing the same agenda."

The Daily Times (Feb. 21) reported that, "a delegation of US senators visiting Pakistan met Pakistan People's Party (PPP) Co-chairman Asif Ali Zardari at the US embassy here on Tuesday and urged him to ally with moderate forces to form a democratic government. US Ambassador Anne W Peterson was also present on the occasion. The delegates condoled with Asif Ali Zardari on his wife and former prime minister Benazir Bhutto's death and acknowledged Benazir's struggle for democracy. The delegation of US senators includes Senator John Kerry, a former US presidential candidate, Senator Joseph Biden and Senator Chuck Hagel."

The Americans and particularly its Ambassador in Pakistan should know that the people of Pakistan have voted the Pakistan People's Party -headed by Mr. Zaradari - as the largest political party and he therefore should be treated with due respect and courtesy. But more importantly, it is high time that junior level American diplomats should stop trying to micro manage Pakistan. Another U.S. diplomat - its Consul General in Lahore - met Aitzaz Ahsan and tried to persuade him to that the PPP should work with Musharraf as President.

The level of interference by the U.S. diplomats in Pakistan has crossed all limits of diplomatic norms and the tolerance of Pakistani people. It is about time that the people demand that the U.S. Ambassador Anne Peterson immediately leave Pakistan. The APDM and the civil soceity- particularly - the lawyers should demand this as a sign of protest by the Pakistani people against the American support for dictator Musharraf.

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