Pakistan Foreign Office Dismisses US Threat

Muhammad Sadiq, a spokesperson for the Pakistan Foreign Office dismissed warnings from US envoy, Negroponte, for an end to the state of emergency by saying, “This is nothing new. The United States has been saying this for many days. He has reiterated it.” General Musharraf is insisting the security of his nation comes first and he will not back down from the current state of emergency until conditions have improved. In the meantime, the provincial assemblies in Punjab, Sindh, and Balochistan have been dissolved and caretaker governments established. Benazir Bhutto praised the United States for insisting on an end to the state of emergency and restoration of democracy. But, in response to questions about future relations with Musharraf, she responded; “This nation is waiting for General Musharraf to give a date to retire as Army Chief.”

A problem facing American foreign policy aims is that President Bush completely misread Musharraf just as he thought President Putin of Russia was a budding democrat. General Musharraf has been close to Islamic parties which are conservative and he undoubtedly is hesitant about linking with Buhtto who is much more in the moderate class. If he gets closer to her Pakistan People’s Party, the president runs the risk of alienating his conservative Muslim supporters. Ironically, the religious conservative groups of the Nawaz League are drawing closer to moderate Bhutto which creates a complex array of conflicting groups.