Not Charlie Wilson's war but Bhutto's, says Gilani
Los Angeles Times, July 31, 2008
The black limousines snaked all the way down the street last night as a veritable who's who of South Asia-philes gathered to fete visiting Prime Minister Yusaf Raza Gillani at the Embassy of Pakistan in northwest Washington.
Among those in attendance were U.S. Ambassador to Pakistan Anne Patterson, who flew in for Gillani’s visit to Washington this week, CIA Director Michael Hayden and chief deputy Stephen Kappes, the State Department's South Asia assistant secretary, Richard Boucher, and other inside-the-Beltway luminaries.
Gillani, tapped as prime minister after the first democratic elections in Pakistan in a decade, said little publicly of his meetings with President Bush and other officials, in which he was pressed aggressively to do more to counter the growing threat from Al Qaeda and the Taliban in Pakistan’s semi-autonomous areas bordering Afghanistan.
But Gillani and Pakistan's new ambassador to the United States, Husain Haqqani, both spoke passionately of the challenges facing the newly elected civilian government.
Both said that Pakistan wanted to fight terrorism and restore democracy but that it needed to do so on its own terms -- a polite reference to the mounting American pressure to allow more U.S. military and intelligence activity within the country. And both said Pakistan would do so as a testament to their political party's former leader, Benazir Bhutto, who was assassinated late last year while campaigning to unseat the party of Gen. Pervez Musharraf.
"This is not Charlie Wilson's war," Gillani said, referring to the charismatic former congressman who helped the United States dictate how the Afghan government fought and won its war with the occupying Soviet army in the 1980s. "This is Benazir Bhutto's war. And there should be absolutely no doubt about our commitment to fighting terrorism."
Afterward, Pakistan expert Stephen Cohen of the Brookings Institution said the new government truly wanted to dismantle Al Qaeda and the many other extremist organizations operating on its soil. "This is the best government we could ever hope to get in Pakistan," Cohen said. "I just don’t know if it's enough."
-- Josh Meyer
Gilani hits back, cites US failure in Afghanistan - Dawn