- The Washington Times - Wednesday, April 6, 2005

Exciting times

The ambassador from Pakistan is a fortunate diplomat. He is in the right place at the right time.

Unlike previous Pakistani envoys, Ambassador Jehangir Karamat is enjoying the prestige of being a favored diplomat at the White House and in congressional circles.

The Bush administration has agreed to sell Pakistan F-16 fighter jets, a purchase Pakistan has been seeking since the 1980s. The White House also considers Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf a key regional ally in the war against terrorism and in the reconstruction of neighboring Afghanistan.

“For me being here at this time is particularly exciting,” Mr. Karamat told editors and reporters at a recent luncheon at The Washington Times. “The U.S.-Pakistan relation is better than it has ever been.”

Even disagreements are discussed openly, he said.

“There is a lot of communication between both administrations. We are comfortable with each other, upfront about everything. No one is straddling the fence,” the ambassador said.

Mr. Karamat, ambassador here since December, is a former chairman of Pakistan’s Joint Chiefs of Staff.

Restoring credibility

Liberal foreign policy specialists yesterday praised U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan for proposing the creation of a human rights council that would exclude dictatorships and other authoritarian governments.

Former Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright and former British Foreign Secretary Robin Cook, among others, urged world leaders and democratic nations to endorse the proposal. They denounced the “current perverse” system that allows governments that routinely brutalize their citizens to serve on the U.N. Human Rights Commission.

“The current arrangement enables governments with shameful human rights records, like Sudan and Libya, to gain membership on the commission and thereby block attempts to condemn their own records,” they said in an open letter to Mr. Annan.

“This perverse situation has left gross violations [of human rights] unchallenged, severely undermined the credibility of the U.N. on human rights and infected the entire U.N. system.”

The other signatories, who called themselves “progressive leaders,” included Lee H. Hamilton, a former Democratic House member from Indiana and co-chairman of the September 11 commission; Antonio Manuel de Oliveira Guterres, former prime minister of Portugal; Morton H. Halperin of Open Society Institute; and John Podesta of the Center for American Progress.

GOP for CAFTA

The Senate Republican Policy Committee yesterday released a set of talking points to build Senate support for a free-trade agreement with Central American nations.

The committee warned that a defeat of the treaty would indicate that the United States “is not committed to open market principles” and would maintain “high tariff barriers on U.S. exports to the region.” A rejection of the treaty also would mean the “loss of an important export market for numerous U.S. suppliers of cotton, yarns and fabrics,” the committee said.

It called passage of the treaty a “win-win” situation for U.S. consumers.

The U.S. sugar industry opposes the treaty because it fears the pact would flood the U.S. market with imported sugar.

The treaty would cover Costa Rica, El Salvador, Honduras, Guatemala and Nicaragua in Central America and the Dominican Republic in the Caribbean.

Those countries “constitute our 12th largest export market with a consumer base of nearly 44 million,” the committee said.

Passage of the Dominican Republic-Central America Free Trade Agreement is “vital to the economic and security interests of both the United States” and the six other countries covered by the pact, which needs Senate ratification, it added.

Call Embassy Row at 202/636-3297, fax 202/832-7278 or e-mail jmorrison@washingtontimes.com.

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