US pulling out all stops to retain Musharraf as Pak president: Officials

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Islamabad, Apr.7 : A senior government official, speaking on condition of anonymity, has said here that the Bush Administration is keen to ensure that retired General Pervez Musharraf remains the President of Pakistan for some more time.

Acknowledging that Musharraf's growing political isolation within Pakistan is a matter of concern to Washington, the official told The Nation, that the Bush Administration has been involved in hectic 'behind the scene' efforts to ensure that its major ally in the global war on terror, is not abandoned any time soon, and will continue to secure his incumbent slot.

"The US efforts to ensure the continuity of Musharraf's presidency are very much on and it is reaching out to all major ruling politicians in Islamabad for the purpose. Talks in this regard are being held secretly through diplomatic channels," the paper quoted the senior official as saying.

He said those who believed that the visit to Islamabad by US envoys, John Negroponte and Richard Boucher, was the last ditch effort to rescue Musharraf, were not mindful of the fact that the 'no firm commitment' has been giveb by the new PPP-led government on the war on terror, and this had left Washington with no other option but to continue with its support to Musharraf.

According to the official, the Americans want Musharraf to lead the war against terrorism in Pakistan with the full support of the Pakistan Army because of their reservations about Pakistan's new political leadership on that front.

"They have offered the ruling politicians that the President is willing to take a back seat on day-to-day government affairs, but insist that he shall be the leading actor in Pakistan in the arena of war on terror," the official said.

Another official, who was contacted, also confirmed Washington's efforts to support Musharraf.

He said," Had the Bush Administration withdrawn its support, the President would have called it a day much earlier, most probably after the stunning defeat of the PML-Q in the February 18 general elections."

He said only ongoing American efforts would determine the fate of President Musharraf.

"At present the PPP and PML-N are indulged in the formation of governments in Sindh, Punjab and Balochistan provinces and once they get free they will then go for a final decision on the presidency of General (r) Musharraf," the official claimed.

ANI

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