Pakistan needs to have very solid civilian control over army: Rice
* US secretary of State says newly elected government presents strategic new opportunity for ally in war against terrorism
Daily Times Monitor, April 16, 2008
LAHORE: Pakistan needs to find a way to gain a very solid civilian control of its armed forces, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has said.
Accepting the first honorary doctorate conferred by the United States Air Force in a ceremony in her home state of Alabama, she said that the US needed to engage all the institutions of Pakistan. She said the US planned to engage the Government of Pakistan as it would engage any other democratic government, and would support its efforts to strengthen democratic institutions and reconcile with its neighbouring countries in South and Central Asia.
New govt: Referring to the newly elected government, she said it presented a new strategic opportunity for an ally in the war on terror. The US believes in defeating terrorism by dealing with the conditions that produce terrorists, she said, adding that President George Bush believed that a transition to democracy was vital to defeating terrorism in the long-term.
Rice said that Pakistan had been an ally in the war against terror since the events of 9/11, 2001. This, she said, had necessitated a strong programme of military assistance and co-operation. “Our engagement, however, has always been multidimensional. Since 2005, America has invested $300 million each year to help the Pakistani people by supporting health programmes, educational reform, as well as the building of civil society,” she added. The secretary of State said that successful US engagement with a democratic Pakistan was vital to the US’ national security and to the lasting success of South and Central Asia.