- The Washington Times - Wednesday, December 13, 2000

Pakistan's new appeal

Pakistani Ambassador Maleeha Lodhi is sending a message to the next U.S. president to pay more attention to her country and avoid a "piecemeal and sporadic" approach to global crises.

Miss Lodhi, in a speech to the Atlantic Council in Washington this week, also called for renewed dialogue between Pakistan and India over the disputed region of Kashmir, the cause of two wars between the South Asian rivals.

Pakistan believes the United States has tilted toward India since President Clinton made a five-day visit to India in March and spent only a few hours visiting the military ruler of Pakistan.

Both nations demonstrated they possess the ability to build nuclear weapons by detonating nuclear devices in 1998.

Miss Lodhi appealed for a more balanced approach to the subcontinent.

"The new U.S. administration can and should play an active role in promoting durable peace and stability in the world's major crisis areas, including the Middle East and South Asia," she said.

"In doing so, it should move from the approach of crisis management to effective and timely preventive diplomacy."

Miss Lodhi appealed to the next president be it George W. Bush or Al Gore for a more realistic approach to international affairs.

"The new U.S. administration, taking office at a time when the U.S. is the world's pre-eminent power will continue to significantly influence the course of events globally and in various sensitive regions of the world," she said.

"We hope that U.S. policy will be determined with greater care and deliberation. And that this is informed by a strategic vision that keeps the big picture in view and not just responds to the immediate in a piecemeal and sporadic way."

The United States should recognize Pakistan's potential as an economic link between China and the Persian Gulf countries, she said.

"Pakistan is a pivotal state. Its geostrategic and geo-economic location can enable it to play a vital role in the future in becoming the geographic link for the economic fusion of the resource-rich Central Asian states with the growing markets and manufacturing capacities of South Asia," Miss Lodhi said.

"In evolving its longer-term policy towards the region, we expect the U.S. to keep in view this potential role that Pakistan can play as a geo-economic linchpin."

She called on India to "halt repressive measures" in the restless Kashmir region, where India has accused Pakistan of backing Muslim militants fighting Indian rule.

"Peace between Pakistan and India can be built in a step-by-step process that is manifestly fair and equitable," she said.

"This dialogue process could be sustained only if appropriate measures are taken to build mutual confidence that the talks are designed to secure a genuine solution. To this end, India should agree to halt all repressive measures, such as crackdowns, and move Indian troops into their barracks. Pakistan would be prepared to make every endeavor to convince the Kashmiris to respond."

Miss Lodhi called on the United States "to actively encourage and support a viable and fair Kashmir peace process."

Embassy shut in Qatar

The United States has closed its embassy in the Persian Gulf country of Qatar for security reasons.

The embassy was closed on Saturday, the start of the work week in the Muslim country, Agence France-Presse reported yesterday.

"American residents in Qatar were informed that the embassy would be closed all week," Elita Wenger said.

She added the action was taken to "ensure the safety of staff" but refused to give further details of any specific threat.

The closure of the embassy in Qatar is the latest U.S. diplomatic response to security concerns since the Oct. 12 bombing of the USS Cole in Yemen.

Nigeria gets AIDS grant

Nigeria yesterday received a $25 million grant from Harvard University to fight AIDS, the wife of the former U.S. ambassador to Nigeria announced.

Arese Carrington, a director of the Harvard School of Public Health, said the money will be released in grants of $5 million apiece over the next 18 months.

Walter Carrington was ambassador there from 1993 to 1997.

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