Tuesday, January 4, 2011

US continues to work with Pakistani government: State Department

The United States, while reaffirming its strong support for Pakistan, has said it continues to work closely with the democratic government in Islamabad which is facing internal political challenges common to a coalition setup.“By every indication the government is taking steps to deal with this political situation.

This is how coalition governments handle these issues all over the world,” Assistant Secretary of State Philip J Crowley said at the daily briefing. Crowley was answering a spate of questions on political developments in Islamabad after two coalition partners said they were withdrawing their support for the majority Pakistan Peoples Party-led ruling coalition while some other parties outside the coalition indicated their backing for the current government.

The spokesman said Washington “continues to work closely with this (incumbent) government on the issues that we’ve outlined as part of our strategic partnership.” “A civilian government, we think, is essential to the future of Pakistan and to building institutions of government that can transform the relationship between the Pakistani people and the government. So we continue to support the Pakistani Government,” he stated.

The current situation, he remarked, is about “internal politics within Pakistan, which has a parliamentary system, and you have a coalition government, and there are, there’s activity within that coalition, and the government is working to clarify what their support is.”

The spokesman also saw no immediate impact of the political situation on the key South Asian country’s anti-militant drive.

“I can’t say at this point that the fact that they have this current political situation necessarily distracts them from what they’re, what else they’re doing,” he responded when asked if the political situation is diverting focus from the battle against militants.

In reply to a question on economic reforms and fight against terrorists, the spokesman said these are decisions by Pakistan in its own interest. “Fighting extremists within its borders that is a threat to Pakistani civil society is definitely in Pakistan’s interest. Getting its financial house in order is definitely in Pakistan’s interest.

Building and expanding the capacity of civilian-led government in Pakistan is definitely in Pakistan’s interest. But the government obviously is confronting a challenge within its coalition. That these things happen in parliamentary systems all the time.”

“We are going to encourage, we are going to continue to work with the Pakistani Government and provide the support that we’ve outlined to help expand its capacity, address the challenge inside its borders, and help put its finances on more solid footing,” he said.

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