U.S. Jewish leader Rosen visits Pakistan to support Musharraf
Last update - 21:02 26/11/2007
By Marc Perelman, Jewish Daily Forward
With the blessing of Washington, Jack Rosen, chairman of the American Jewish Congress's Council for World Jewry, traveled halfway across the globe for a face-to-face meeting with Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf, who he had hailed two years ago as a courageous leader and driving force in Jewish-Muslim dialogue.
In recent weeks Musharraf has been roundly criticized for declaring emergency rule and cracking down on his opposition, in particular the judiciary. The de facto declaration of martial law has been widely viewed as an effort to preempt a ruling from the Supreme Court that would have invalidated Musharraf's reelection as president last month.
"The real choice we face is not between Musharraf and a return to an effective democratic system, but between Musharraf and the possible collapse of Pakistan," Rosen wrote in a letter to the editor appearing in this week's edition of the Jewish Daily Forward.
Rosen made the trip to Islamabad after consulting with the State Department and key members of Congress. In addition to Musharraf, he met with General Ashfaq Kiyani, the deputy chief of staff who is expected to take over for Musharraf as head of the army, as well as ministers and intelligence officials. In his letter to the Forward, he said he also met with opposition leaders. Rosen declined further comment.
The Council of World Jewry has made efforts to reach out to Jewish groups in France and Russia, but to date its signature achievement has been Musharraf's appearance at an AJCongress dinner in 2005, the first address made by a Pakistani leader before a Jewish group. At the dinner, Musharraf vowed to improve Muslim-Jewish ties, including relations between Israel and Pakistan, and said he was committed to combating extremist groups.
Rosen did stress in his letter to the editor of the Forward that democracy should be the 'ultimate goal' and that Musharraf understands this. But he noted that Pakistan first had to focus on dealing with the multiple threats it is facing.
"The most compelling idea that should inform our policy toward Pakistan is the urgent need to keep that country's nuclear arsenal out of the hands of the Islamist extremists," Rosen writes. "That requires some stability, which rests, inter alia, on cooperation between a strong military and a strong executive branch."
"Jack Rosen, chairman American Jewish Congress, accompanied President Musharraf’s three special envoys — Dr Nasim Ashraf, Mohammad Ali Saif and Kashmala Tariq — as they visited various lawmakers to convince them to support the government.
Mr Rosen, who recently visited Islamabad to convey his group’s support to President Musharrf, said he was sure that the president would fulfil his promise to lift emergency by Dec 16."
source: US lawmakers call for restoration of SC judges December 07, 2007 Friday
Top US Diplomat to Meet With Pakistan's President Pervez Musharraf (VOA)
By David Gollust
16 November 2007
U.S. Deputy Secretary of State John Negroponte, beginning a critical political mission to Pakistan late Friday, held a telephone discussion with former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto. Negroponte is in Islamabad to push for an end to the state of emergency declared by President Pervez Musharraf. VOA's David Gollust reports from the State Department.
Negroponte, the highest level U.S. official to visit Pakistan since the November 3 emergency declaration, held the phone conversation with Ms. Bhutto only hours after her release from house arrest in Lahore.
State Department Spokesman Sean McCormack said the Deputy Secretary, who also met late Friday with Pakistani National Security Adviser Tariq Aziz, is in Pakistan to repeat U.S. calls for lifting the emergency decree which has plunged the country into political crisis.
He said Negroponte's early outreach to the former prime minister and opposition leader underlines the importance the U.S. attaches to a restoration of free political discourse inside Pakistan.
"It does send a very clear message that we intend to continue our contacts with members of Pakistan's political leadership and political civil society," said Mr. McCormack. "We think it's vitally important that there be a free exchange of information, that those channels of communication remain open. And more importantly, that they have open, free channels of communication with one another. "
The spokesman said Negroponte, who expected to see General Musharraf Saturday, would also push for setting a specific date for parliamentary elections (promised for January), an end to curbs on the media, and for the Pakistani president to quit his post as army chief if he continues in politics.
The United States has urged reconciliation and dialogue among political moderates in Pakistan including General Musharraf and Ms. Bhutto.
But McCormack sidestepped a question as to whether Negroponte would urge the two to revive the power-sharing deal they had discussed before the emergency declaration, saying that is for Pakistanis to decide.
In that regard, he also dismissed charges leveled by outgoing Pakistani Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz, among others, that Washington is trying to dictate how Pakistan should run its affairs.
"We have tried very hard to stay out of Pakistani domestic politics. I will say that we have expressed our views which we believe are consistent with our nation interests, and we have expressed our views in the vein of friendship and counsel to a good friend," added Mr. McCormack. "So if people consider that interference in Pakistani politics, I don't know there is much that I can do to try to combat those kinds of concerns."
Negroponte, the chief of U.S. national intelligence before assuming the number-two State Department job in January, has been the point man for contacts with Islamabad under the U.S.-Pakistan Strategic Dialogue. He last visited that country in September.
McCormack did not rule out meetings by Negroponte with other Pakistani opposition figures or other senior members of the country's military, and said he anticipated no impediments to his activities in Pakistan.
"When Deputy Secretary of State John Negroponte visited Pakistan last weekend, he met once with President Pervez Musharraf, for two hours. But before he left town, he held three meetings with a lesser-known figure: General Ashfaq Kiyani, the deputy army chief.
The attention paid to Kiyani has affirmed speculation here that he will soon be chosen as Musharraf’s successor as head of the army, and, as such, will be a vital ally for the Bush administration during a time of crisis.
Kiyani has working-class roots, having been raised in farming communities in the Punjab, sometimes called the country’s “martial belt” because many teenage boys from the province enter the military, lacking other economic opportunities. He was educated at the US Army Command and General Staff College at Fort Leavenworth, Kan."
source: Security Forces Shooting To Kill In Pakistan
December 28, 2007