Washington waits for Musharraf's role to be redefined

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Washington, Feb.25 : The Bush Administration has decided to wait for President Pervez Musharraf's role to be redefined in the emerging political landscape in Pakistan, before reaching out to disparate new political and military leaders to ensure future bilateral cooperation with the United States.

According to a Washington Post report, no one is keen on pushing Musharraf out the door.

"We're quite clear that we're going to work with him (Musharraf), but in a new role, as we'll work with new leaders in the parties, the army and civil society," the paper quoted a senior U.S. State Department official, as saying.

The Bush administration is exploring a range of ideas, including a proposal by Senator Joseph R. Biden Jr of Delaware to triple non-military aid to Pakistan, sustain it for 10 years, and focus on schools, roads and healthcare.

According to Biden and other American officials, this initiative would buttress recent U.S. strategy emphasizing education and economic development as keys to stabilizing society and weaning away tribal and rural support for extremists.

The United States has already allocated about 400 million dollars for economic aid in fiscal 2008 in a bid to address public grievances, according to the State Department.

After six months of intense, behind-the-scenes involvement in Pakistani politics -- such as brokering the return last fall of former prime minister Benazir Bhutto, who was subsequently assassinated -- the future U.S. role is likely to be limited to financial aid for development and the military, and cooperation in combating militant groups such as al-Qaeda and the Taliban, according to U.S. officials.

Once a government is fully formed, the administration plans to have discussions with new political and military leaders about counter-terrorism, they added.

Pakistan Army Chief, General Ashfaq Kiyani, is being looked at as an emerging ally to Washington vis- -vis affairs in his country.

ANI

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