Islamabad, Feb 29 : The Bush Administration wants to ensure military pressure is kept up on militants in the Pakistan's tribal areas, but Washington's continued support for President Pervez Musharraf risks deepening anti-American sentiment among people.
Despite Washington's denials of any meddling in Pakistani politics, influential commentators and average citizens are convinced that the US is propping up the unpopular former Army Chief to sustain the fight against al-Qaida, even as it calls for more democracy.
"I want to ask President Bush, will he allow any other country to intervene in the ongoing US election?" said Ibrar Christi, 31-year-old car dealer in Lahore.
"Now America wants our political parties to cooperate with Musharraf. Why? Just because he is their yes man? We have voted against Musharraf and his policies," he added.
Bush called Musharraf shortly after the February 18 election and the White House has also praised him for working hard in the counter terrorism fight.
That irked many Pakistanis who feel they have sent a loud message to Musharraf and by extension the US - with a resounding defeat of the pro-Musharraf Pakistan Muslim League-Q.
The victors, the PPP and the PML-N, have pushed for an end to military rule since Musharraf took power in a 1999 coup. But the US cannot be certain they will press the fight against al-Qaida and Taliban militants as hard as Musharraf has.
"There is an anguish about the statements from the White House," said Asma Jehangir, head of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan.
"They are again giving a breath of life to the old establishment, which is what the people wanted to change," she added.