US Ambassador Anne Patterson on Monday met former premier and Pakistan Muslim League-N chief Nawaz Sharif to discuss the emerging political scenario in Pakistan, the latest in a series of meetings between Western envoys and leaders of parties that are set to form the new government.
Sharif briefed Patterson about his party's agenda, including the restoration of the pre-emergency status of the judiciary, supremacy of the Parliament and strengthening of democracy, during the meeting at the Frontier House in Islamabad.
Patterson congratulated Sharif on the victory of his party in the February 18 general election. The PML-N is set to form a coalition government with the Pakistan People's Party, which emerged the largest group in the polls.
"Through the electoral process, the Pakistani people have expressed their views and we respect their choices," Patterson said. "We are ready to work with whatever coalition is formed. It is up to those elected to form a government." Patterson reiterated US President George Bush's commitment to democracy in Pakistan.
She informed Sharif about the "US's shared interests with Pakistan" and continuing economic assistance and military cooperation. "We wish to continue working together, advancing our common agenda of improving the lives of the Pakistani people through development assistance and continuing our joint efforts to improve Pakistan's ability to enhance its own security," she said.
Western envoys have stepped up contacts with leaders of the Pakistan People's Party and PML-N to ensure a smooth transition of power after the opposition parties swept the polls and to shore up the position of President Pervez Musharraf, whose supporters were routed in the elections.
Sharif later told reporters that Pakistan attaches 'great importance to its relations with the US'. The PML-N condemned "all kinds of terrorist activities but was of the view that negotiations provided a means to address the causes of terrorism and find a solution instead of relying on force alone", he said.
He said that if Pakistan could hold talks with India to resolve long-standing disputes, there was no reason not to engage in a dialogue with those involved in terrorist activities.
Sharif said the PML-N "gives full respect to the mandate for the PPP to form government in the centre". The PPP would also support the PML-N to form the government in Punjab province, he added.