Washington, July 24 : The US administration is planning to deliver key policy messages to Pakistan Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani during his next week's US visit, in a bid to make it clear that now it wants to get over its Musharraf phobia and acknowledge the new politico-democratic government led by Gilani.
To reassure the new Pakistani leaders that Washington had shifted gears and changed its Musharraf-centric policy, an important list of goodies has been prepared by the US officials, which will be revealed during the talks, reported The News.
According to the paper, one positive result of the Gilani visit will be the "fading away of Pervez Musharraf from the US radar", as everyone says he is now a thing of the past and should be allowed to disappear into history. "We have been told Musharraf will not be mentioned at any meeting," a Pakistani diplomat said. Others handling the logistics and lobbying arrangements for Pakistan privately say Musharraf will be out of the scene within weeks, latest by September and Washington will not shed any tears for him.
If senior diplomats in Washington are to be believed, during his first US visit, Gilani would be made to feel that Washington was willing wholeheartedly to politically and economically support the new government. "We have been told in very clear terms that the Bush administration wanted the political government to take charge of all national policies, take decisions and organise itself without fear or what others may be thinking or saying and Washington will back them," the paper quoted a senior US diplomat as saying in Washington.
The timeframe to test out the new leadership in Pakistan and to give them political space was broadly being mentioned as six months to one year in which the Americans will patiently try to work with the civilian government, modifying their habit of issuing orders to military rulers who in turn would issue orders and get things done. But, the US administration would emphasise that decisions regarding the war on terror should be taken keeping the interests of Pakistan's allies, their views and goals in view and every party must be consulted and taken into confidence on these decisions.
While top US military, intelligence and government leaders are repeatedly making their positions clear, including their annoyance at failure of Pakistan to deal with the Taliban and al-Qaeda in Fata, and press for more military action, there is a sort of resigned acceptance that if a dialogue with the militants can produce positive results, the new government should be provided the space to try this option.
"Washington is telling us clearly that they are not interested in Pakistan's domestic affairs, but there is a growing expectancy that the new government should exercise its authority over major domestic issues, including the economy and domestic terrorism," Pakistani sources here said.
"We have been told that President Musharraf will not be mentioned at any level by the Bush administration and neither should the Pakistanis do so," a Pakistani official who will be part of Gilani's team, said.