Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Charges against PM Ashraf rooted in old case, says US

The US State Department has said that the Supreme Court order against Prime Minister Pervez Ashraf is rooted in an old case but refused to say if it’s politically motivated.
At a news briefing at the State Department, spokesperson Victoria Nuland also said that the United States was not taking a position on Maulana Tahirul Qadri’s long march or on political issues associated with it.
“My understanding is that this was rooted in an old case and the charges were made some time ago,” said Ms Nuland when asked if the US believed the order was politically motivated.
“We are not in a position to evaluate the charges one way or the other. If we do we will let you know,” she added.
The comments confirm what diplomatic circles in Washington have been saying that the US will take no position in this dispute and that it will neither help the Zardari government survive this crisis nor will it push them out.
Asked to comment on the long march, the State Department official said: “We are obviously not taking a position with regards to the march, and on all of those various political issues that marchers are out in the streets for.”
The US, however, desired those demonstrations to remain peaceful and expected the Pakistani government to protect the right of the people to protest peacefully, she said.
Responding to another question on the order against the prime minister, Ms Nuland said: “It’s an internal issue for the Pakistanis to resolve as long as it’s resolved in a just and transparent manner in accordance to the Constitution and the rule of law.”
Asked if the US had any position on the current situation in Pakistan, the State Department official said: “We have remained committed to a democratically elected civilian government in Pakistan and will continue to do so.”
Ms Nuland also made it clear that the order or the long march has had no affect Washington’s contacts with Islamabad.

“We have been talking to the government of Pakistan throughout this period,” said the US official while noting that Pakistan’s foreign minister was in New York on Tuesday where she was also meeting the US ambassador to the United Nations.
“So we have continued our line of communication throughout this period,” she added.
Asked if US officials will also discuss the current situation in Pakistan with the foreign minister, Ms Nuland said Hina Rabbani Khar had come to New York primarily because Pakistan was taking over as chair of the UN Security Council. “So the talks with her will focus primarily on UN and multi-lateral issues.”
The State Department official said that the US Embassy in Islamabad was closed during the last two days and will remain closed for public service on Wednesday as well “because of the number of people out in the streets.”
The US ambassador had also been “very active” during this period but “I am not going to get into details of his activities,” she said.
The embassy, she noted, had advised Americans living in Pakistan to take usual security precautions but had not issued a new security alert.
When told that some media outlets in Pakistan were reporting that the US had lost confidence in the current Pakistani government, Ms Nuland said: “This is not our view…we believe that internal issues need to be resolved by Pakistanis in a just and transparent manner and in accordance with the rule of law.”

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