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US renews request for Pakistani troops

US renews request for Pakistani troops

Author: Qudssia Akhlaque
Publication: Dawn
Date: April 13, 2004
URL: http://www.dawn.com/2004/04/13/top9.htm

The US government has made a renewed request to Pakistan for sending its troops to Iraq as part of a multinational UN force that may be dispatched there after the transfer of power in June, Dawn learnt on Monday.

US ambassador in Islamabad Ms Nancy Powell conveyed Washington's new request for Pakistani troops during a recent meeting at the Foreign Office here, diplomatic sources said.

"US has approached Pakistan again for contribution of troops for a potential UN force after the transfer of power," these sources told Dawn, adding that Pakistan had made no commitments yet.

Pakistan's stated position on this question has been that it would only consider sending troops to Iraq under the UN umbrella. Last year when the US government asked for a contribution of 10,000 troops Pakistan reiterated this position.

The US-led occupation forces are scheduled to formally hand over power to an interim Iraqi government on June 30. US Secretary of State Colin Powell has made it clear that the Bush administration would stick to its June 30 target for handover of power to an Iraqi transitional government.

However, the Democrats have warned the Bush administration about the timing, saying the plans to transfer power in June may unleash a civil war. The US is expected to push for a UN resolution calling for a multinational force in Iraq ahead of the June 30 deadline.

The US State Department confirmed last week that Washington was in regular contact with some dozen new countries, including India and Bangladesh, for contribution of troops to Iraq.

Pakistan, Bangladesh and India are among the five leading contributors to the UN peacekeeping operations around the world with Pakistan currently topping the list.

Meanwhile, for the US the job in Iraq is getting tougher with the fresh spate of attacks across the country. A slow and steady depletion through casualties of its own troops is making Washington feel the need for foreign troops even more.

The Bush administration has come under scathing attack from the international community and human rights organizations for its unilateral adventurism in Iraq that has led to a humanitarian crisis and worsened the security situation there.

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