Musharraf to seek more money for backing US

The United States should be rewarding Pakistan for its co-operation in the US-led invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq, according to President Pervez Musharraf who says he will be going to Washington later this month.

    In an interview on Sunday, Musharraf said many Pakistanis feel short-changed by the US administration.

    Islamabad has received only a billion dollars in debt forgiveness and hundreds of millions in aid since throwing its weight behind the US war on the Taliban and Iraq.
    Musharraf faces increasing vocal opposition at home, with opponents frequently criticising him as a US stooge since he came to power in a 1999 coup.

    "I don't think the issue is that alarming that I have to achieve something before I come back otherwise the government has had it," he said.
    "[But] the United States should also realise that Pakistan, as a member of the coalition, as a partner in the coalition which has done so much … needs to be given assistance which is more visible." 

    Pakistan had previously recognised the Taliban as the official government of Afghanistan, but reversed support for the country after the 11 September attacks.

    Musharraf is due to meet US President George Bush on 24 June, and said he would be asking for more market access for Pakistani goods, further debt relief, an end to military sanctions and the chance to buy military hardware.
    Pakistan also hopes Washington will forgive the remaining $1.8 billion in bilateral debt after writing off $1.0 billion in return for Islamabad's support after the 11 September attacks. 

    Rebuilding relations

    Musharraf added that many Pakistanis had still not forgiven Washington for refusing to deliver 28 F-16 fighters in the 1990s because of concerns in Washington - especially among the Zionist lobby - over the country's nuclear weapons programme.
    The planes had already been paid for, but it took eight years for the money to be refunded.
    "The F-16 factor is known by any man walking in the street, that we were supposed to get them, and we have still not got them. Other than that, on the economic assistance package there is a general feeling we need to get more, but we are dealing with that."

    Musharraf said he enjoyed an excellent understanding with Bush and other members of the US administration.
    He dismissed reports of a rift with the administration over allegations that Pakistan had leaked nuclear weapons secrets to North Korea, or over allegations that it supported armed groups fighting Indian administered Kashmir in the disputed region.
    "Whatever we are doing, they know what we are doing, they believe what we are doing. Credibility and mutual understanding is total, completely irrespective of what is being said in the media."

    SOURCE: Unspecified


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