US backing of Musharraf frustrates Pakistanis

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{image-pak-US+flafg_29022008.jpg www.oneindia.com}Islamabad, Feb 29 : Pakistanis are becoming more and more frustrated with the US due to the Bush Administration's continued backing of President Pervez Musharraf, despite defeat of his allies in February 18 polls.

That support has rankled the public, politicians and journalists here, inciting deep anger at what is perceived as American meddling and the refusal of Washington to embrace the new, democratically elected government, the New York Times (NYT) has said. Deputy Secretary of State John D. Negroponte said on Thursday during a Senate panel hearing that the US would maintain its close ties to Musharraf. Pakistanis say that the Bush Administration is grossly misjudging the political mood in Pakistan and squandering an opportunity to win support from the Pakistani public for its fight against terrorism.

The opposition parties who won the February 18 parliamentary elections say they are moderate and pro-American. By working with them, analysts say, Washington could gain a vital, new ally. The American insistence that Musharraf play a significant role will only draw out a power struggle with the President and distract the new government from pushing ahead with alternatives to Musharraf's policies on the economy and terrorism, which are widely viewed here as having failed.

"I've never seen such an irrational, impractical move on the part of the US," said Rasul Baksh Rais, a political scientist at the Lahore University of Management Sciences.

"The whole country has voted against Musharraf. This was a referendum against Musharraf," the NYT quoted Rais, as saying.

A senior American official in Washington acknowledged that there was indeed worry within the Bush Administration about being seen as meddling.

Speaking on the condition of anonymity, the official conceded that American attempts last year to construct a power-sharing deal between Musharraf and former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto "didn't really work out quite as we'd hoped."

He added that differences remained between Musharraf and Bhutto, who was killed on December 27, 2007.

"The last thing we need is to be seen by the Pakistanis as interfering again," he said.

ANI

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