Lahore, Mar 26 : Siding with their old time 'anti-terror ally' (Musharraf), two key US officials camping in Islamabad - Deputy Secretary of State John Negroponte and Assistant Secretary of State Richard Boucher, have reportedly appealed to former premier Nawaz Sharif to soften his stand on President Pervez Musharraf. They said Washington feels comfortable getting along with the President.
In a 55-minute-long meeting with Nawaz last evening, the two US officials explained how important President Musharraf was for the US in its war on terror, and explained to him that Musharraf had been part of the US' war on terror since 2001, reported The News.
However, Nawaz countered the US officials' stance on the ground that the recent mandate of the people had established that Musharraf had lost the trust of the masses. The ex-PM also challenged Musharraf's policies, especially his approach to the war on terror.
According to the paper, Nawaz contended said Musharraf had been part of the war on terror problem, and could not become part of the solution. He also tried to explain to the US officials how crucial was Musharraf's role in strengthening the Taliban government and consequently consolidating al-Qaeda's position in the region.
Nawaz discussed in detail the mismanaged facets of the war on terror, and told the US how costly was this war for Pakistan. The former PM attributed the growing violence in Pakistan to poor handling of the issue, saying only elected representatives of the people had the potential and the right to formulate policies with regard to this menace. The PML-N leader said terrorism was unacceptable; however, he had reservations on the operational mismanagement in war on terror.
He said the West would have to win the hearts and minds of the people rather than indiscriminate pounding of suspected terrorists' hubs, which had inherent threat of great collateral damage.
Besides, Nawaz informed them how the President had manipulated the 2002 elections in the NWFP, giving massive representation to the rightwing parties.
Nawaz Sharif also told the officials about the inhumane treatment meted out to him and his family when he was in exile. He told the US officials that the new Pakistan parliament would not become a rubberstamp of the presidency.
Putting his point across to the Americans with regard to the latter's interest in Pakistan, he told the US officials the policy-decisions vis-a-vis the war on terror had to be routed through the elected parliament, and his party wouldn't appreciate the US's overwhelming dependence on Musharraf.