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Musharraf: 'Differences with US'

Musharraf: 'Differences with US'

Geraldine Carroll
BBC News
April 3, 2000
Title: Musharraf: 'Differences with US'
Author: Geraldine Carroll in Bangkok
Publication: BBC News
Date: April 3, 2000

Pakistan's military leader, General Pervez Musharraf, has warned that deep differences remain with the United States on key issues concerning security.

Speaking in Thailand on the final leg of his tour of South-East Asia, General Musharraf said it was vital that both sides bridged their differences to ensure stability in South Asia.

He said it was crucial that Pakistan and the US bridge the gap in their relations on issues such as terrorism, nuclear proliferation and the disputed region of Kashmir.

The visit by US President Bill Clinton to South Asia, which ended last week, prompted some political analysts to say that US support was tilting towards India, rather than its traditional ally, Pakistan.  But General Musharraf said he was not threatened by the fact that President Clinton spent five days in India and only six hours in Pakistan.

"I'm bothered about the American relationship with Pakistan and we are bothered about the substance of that relationship," the general said.

"The US relationship with India can progress as they want - they are two separate countries, why should it be bothering Pakistan, in particular?" he said.

Key concerns

The issues of concern, he said, include:

· tension with India over the disputed region of Kashmir
· the nuclear arms race with India
· terrorism
· developments in Afghanistan.

General Musharraf refused to be drawn on whether he would support clemency for former Pakistani prime minister Nawaz Sharif, if he is found guilty on charges of attempted murder and hijacking and given the death penalty.

General Musharraf led the military coup which ousted Mr Sharif's democratically elected government last October.

"I would, first of all, allow the court to pass its judgement, General Musharraf said.  He said any subsequent mercy petition would have to go through the legal process.

"It has to go to the Supreme Court and finally end with the president. I don't fall in the channel at all.

"But I have been saying that I'm not a vindictive man. So let the judgement be passed and let the process of justice take place," he said.

General Musharraf held talks in Bangkok with the Thai Prime Minister, Chuan Leekpai, on efforts to forge stronger trade links between the two countries.

Analysts say the military ruler has been eager to ease Pakistan's political isolation in the region following the military coup.

His South-East Asia tour included stops in Indonesia, Brunei, Malaysia and Singapore.

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