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US policy on Pak is disaster for both countries: Imran Khan

January 24, 2008 11:41 IST
Imran Khan, former Pakistan cricket captain and leader of opposition party Tehreek-e-Insaaf, has criticised the Bush administration's policy toward Pakistan and stated that it's pandering to President Pervez Musharraf spells disaster for both countries.

During his visit to the Amnesty International USA headquarters in Washington DC, Khan said he would "try and convince politicians in Washington that the policy they have adopted is a disaster for Pakistan and it is a disaster for America."

Khan is also slated to speak at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a leading think tank, and at the National Press Club's Morning Newsmaker series.

"This flawed policy has not only increased anti-Americanism in Pakistan, but it has also inadvertently fueled terrorism in the country," argued Khan.

"The strategy should be that only a genuinely elected government deals with terrorism by mobilising the people and marginalising the terrorists," he said.

While the Bush administration has been calling for free and fair elections in Pakistan, it was unfortunate that Washington did not talk about the reinstatement of apex court judges, which is the key to free and fair elections, rued Khan.

The cricketer-turned-politician called on the Bush administration to put pressure on Musharraf to reinstate the chief justice and other senior judges, who were sacked during the emergency imposed by Musharraf last year.

Khan also echoed the complaints of the PPP delegation, led by Bhutto's close friend and confidante Sherry Rehman, which is also visiting Washington. He alleged that Musharraf and his regime were planning on rigging the elections and hence his party was boycotting the February 18 elections.

The famous cricketer, who was instrumental in leading Pakistan to a world cup victory in 1992, also met Senate Majority Leader and Nevada Democrat Harry Reid. In a joint statement, the duo called on Bush to cut aid to Pakistan if the elections on February 18 are not free and fair.

"Today's meeting made it even clearer that the United States must support the people of Pakistan, rather than individuals in that nation's government, who oppose democracy," said Reid.

The powerful US lawmaker said that he strongly believed that the United States needs to look closely at the assistance it sends to Pakistan. "If President Musharraf does not allow full and free elections and does not restore freedoms, we need to consider reducing non-development aid to Pakistan," warned Reid.

Reid recently sent President Bush a letter urging him to consider cutting off non-development aid to Pakistan unless Musharraf reinstates the previous Supreme Court, restores all civil liberties and allows a full investigation into the recent assassination of Bhutto.

The lawmaker's office said that during their meeting, Reid and Khan had also discussed US development assistance to Pakistan. The duo also talked about the "importance of ensuring that US taxpayer dollars are helping the Pakistani people in areas like education and healthcare."

Aziz Haniffa in Washington, DC