Friday, March 14, 2008

Shaukat Aziz Urges Support for New Government

Former Pakistani Prime Minister Mr. Shaukat Aziz visited Southern California recently and met with a group of Pakistani-Americans. Here are some of the excerpts of what he said as reported in Pakistan Link, a California weekly covering news and issues of interest to Pakistani-Americans:

Shaukat Aziz said the US should continue unimpeded assistance for the new democratic government in Pakistan. The two countries should focus on strengthening the relationship, deepening and broadening multi-faceted cooperation, and promoting greater people-to-people friendship.

Aziz stated that he was elated that the elections in Pakistan were free, fair and safe. Underscoring that the polls had proved that the majority of Pakistanis were "progressive and moderate", he expressed the hope that the new government would "take Pakistan forward on the path of stability, development and progress".

Aziz said Pakistan has a unique relationship with the US. It is the most allied and the most sanctioned ally of the United States.
"Pakistan-US relations are important for both countries as well as for peace, security and development at the regional as well as international levels," he pointed out.

"One of the key challenges is effectively dealing with difference of perceptions on some important issues", Mr Aziz observed that despite a close relationship between Pakistan and the USA, "anti-Americanism in Pakistan or misunderstandings about Pakistan and its society in the US commitment to fight terrorism and extremism and its contribution and sacrifices in the counter-terrorism struggle are not always fully recognized in the US".

"Continued assertions that Pakistan is not doing enough to combat terrorism contribute to a perception of mistrust about the relationship. There have also been threatening statements about the possible military strikes against terrorist targets inside our tribal areas. In order to avoid any negative fallout there has to be a realistic appreciation of the scope of counter-terrorism cooperation and better understanding of Pakistan's contribution and sacrifices in this endeavor", he added.

Mr Aziz asserted: "It is imperative to avoid any assertions or action that would undermine our sovereignty, be inconsistent with international law, unacceptable to the people of Pakistan and detrimental to the ongoing counter-terrorism cooperation." He claimed that he served the country with zest in the last eight years without taking a day off. He was enjoying time off to "recharge".

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