Musharraf still has a role to play in Pakistan: Richard Boucher

Washington, Apr 11: US Assistant Secretary of State Richard BoucherUS Assistant Secretary of State Richard Boucher, who looks after South Asian Affairs at the State Department, has said that Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf still had a role to play in his country despite the installation of a democratic government there.

He said that all Pakistani leaders, including Musharraf, have a role to play in the new set-up.

Asked if the US believes that Musharraf still has a role to play in the new set-up, Boucher said: “All the leaders of Pakistan have a role.”

In reply to a question if he included Musharraf among the leaders who have a role, Boucher said: “Sure”.

Asked to comment on if US wants a combination of civilian and military leaders, even if retired, in Pakistan to ensure that Islamabad continues to play an effective role in the war on terror, Boucher said: “Look at what we said, not what people said about us. We said we support an elected government … a strong and moderate Pakistan … there’s a democratic opportunity now and we hope it is consistent.”

He said that those who say that the United States was trying to save the deal it arranged between former Pakistan premier Benazir Bhutto and Musharraf two years ago were “trying to make too much” out of it.

Boucher further said that the US wanted a peaceful transition in Pakistan but unfortunately, it did not happen as anticipated and “a terrible event” removed Bhutto from the scene. “In the end, Pakistan politicians ought to be proud of what they achieved and we are very happy to work with them,” added Boucher.

On the occasion, he also dispelled the impression that he and Deputy Secretary John Negroponte had visited Pakistan last month to ensure that Musharraf continues to have a role in the new set-up. “We went to talk to the new democratic government and spoke with all the leaders of Pakistan, every body from the mayor of Karachi to the new prime minister.”

Asked why the US delegation arrived in Pakistan on the day the new prime minister was taking oath of his office, Boucher said they had planned the trip to happen “a bit after” the oath-taking but “we had a very good visit and we went there at a time to do exactly what we wanted, express strong support.” (ANI)