- The Washington Times - Tuesday, December 16, 2003

Pakistan’s neighbor

The Sunday assassination attempt on Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf shows the danger of his support for the United States, Pakistan’s ambassador said yesterday.

“[The United States] image in Pakistan is not popular,” Ambassador Ashraf Jehangir Qazi told editors and reporters at The Washington Times in an unusually candid interview.

In Pakistan, investigators suspect militants used 550 pounds of explosives on Sunday to blow up a bridge just seconds after Gen. Musharraf’s motorcade passed under it.

Mr. Qazi noted that people in Pakistan sometimes feel used by the United States, which he called “the world’s only hyperpower, as the French say, and everyone’s neighbor.”

Pakistan was an ally during the Cold War and then faced U.S. sanctions over its nuclear program. Now Pakistan is a key partner in the war on terrorism but suspected of secretly selling nuclear technology to rogue states like North Korea, an accusation Mr. Qazi called “unfair.”

“Here [in Washington] everyone says, ‘Thank you for your cooperation the war on terrorism, but we don’t trust you,’” he said.

The ambassador said Pakistan appreciates U.S. economic help, especially in the restructuring of some of its foreign debt, and said Pakistanis genuinely like Americans.

Gen. Musharraf supports the United States in the war on terrorism because it is in Pakistan’s national interests, the ambassador said.

However, Pakistan shares the view of U.S. critics who view the war in Iraq as a diversion from the war on terrorism.

“Who would believe that Saddam [Hussein] had anything to do with September 11?” Mr. Qazi asked.

The ambassador added that Pakistanis have no sympathy for Saddam.

“He was a tyrant. The liberation of Iraq from tyranny cannot be a bad thing. … Saddam was never a friend of Pakistan. He was much more friendly with India,” he said, referring to Pakistan’s regional rival.

Mr. Qazi said the Bush administration has played a positive role “behind the scenes” in encouraging India to resume negotiations with Pakistan.

“The United States has a stake in encouraging dialogue between India and Pakistan,” he said, adding that U.S. mediation is essential for the two sides to settle their dispute over Kashmir.

“But it won’t happen if you leave the two of us in a room together.”

Manley rejects ambassadorship

Canada’s former deputy prime minister turned down an offer this week to serve as ambassador to the United States, rejecting the position as a demotion and dealing a blow to the new prime minister, who is anxious to repair relations with Washington.

John Manley was considered one of the most pro-U.S. members in the former Cabinet of Prime Minister Jean Chretien, whose government included officials who were publicly critical of President Bush.

Paul Martin, the new prime minister, was “obviously disappointed” that Mr. Manley decided against serving in Washington, a spokesman told Reuters news agency in Ottawa yesterday.

Mr. Manley also sought to replace Mr. Chretien and clashed with Mr. Martin in the race for prime minister.

Mr. Manley privately told associates that serving as ambassador, even to Canada’s largest trading partner, would be a step down from his previous service, according to news reports. He also did not want to take orders from a foreign minister, a position he also once held.

His decision means that, for now, Michael Kergin will remain Canada’s ambassador here, an office he has held since October 2000.

The United States and Canada share the world’s longest undefended border and are each other’s biggest economic partners, with more than $1.3 billion a day in trade.

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


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