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November 6, 1999
Pak mission may not succeed
C K Arora in Washington
The current high-power visit to the US of a special envoy of Pakistan army ruler General Pervez Musharraf to lobby support for the military regime is unlikely to succeed in view of Washington's insistence on a time-table for the restoration of the civilian government in the country.
Former foreign minister Sahibzada Yaqub Khan, the special envoy, had some intensive round of meetings with senior officials of the Bill Clinton administration and Congress yesterday.
''Our interlocutors are meeting with Mr Yaqub Khan, a former Pakistan foreign minister and highly respected senior statesman who is now in Washington,'' state department spokesman James Rubin said.
''He will be meeting various officials here at the department including Deputy Secretary Strobe Talbott,'' Rubin added.
He said, ''We will make clear our view, that we think that it is very important to have the constitutional, democratic and civilian government in Pakistan restored, and that we are looking for a timetable for steps to that end to be described as soon as possible.''
Yaqub met President Clinton's National Security Advisor Sandy Berger, Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Tom Pickering and Republican Senator Sam Brownback, chairman of senate foreign relations subcommittee on Asia and near east.
A state department official said the administration had been in touch with the military government in Pakistan through the US ambassador in Islamabad, William Milam. Yaqub's visit would help to have still better knowledge of the intentions of the new government and its political and economic agenda.
The overall situation in the region, Afghanistan and Pakistan's relations with India were also discussed during these meetings.
Yaqub is stated to have explained the military government's strong desire to revive normal relations with India and noted that the Indian government was deliberately avoiding resumption of direct dialogue.
Asked to comment on Islamabad's decision to re-appoint Maleeha Lodhi as its new ambassador to the US, Rubin said, ''We have received a request for agreement from the government of Pakistan for a new ambassador. That matter is under review by the department,'' he added.
''It is not our practice to reveal the names of individuals proposed as ambassadors to the US while we are still considering a request for agreement,'' he added.
Rubin said, ''We will continue to engage with Pakistan. We do think it is important to work on issues of concern to our national security, whether they be proliferation, whether they be the importance of pressurising the Taliban to release Osama bin Laden, whether they be the prospect of improved conflict resolution in Kashmir, and whether they be the issue of non-proliferation that are so important to us.''
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