US seeks cooperation with Pakistan in fight against terrorism
( dpa ) - A senior US official said Friday "very dangerous people" are planning attacks along Pakistan's northwest border with Afghanistan, but the US will respect the new government's stance on how to deal with them and the war against terror.
The United States will support democracy in Pakistan, US Assistant Secretary of State Richard Boucher said at a press conference with Asif Ali Zardari, the co-chairman of the Pakistan People's Party which leads a new coalition government.
Boucher said the US wants to work with Pakistan as it "lays out its plans" in the war against terror and other issues.
"We want to all move together to help Pakistan stabilize and make Pakistan a democratic society," he said.
Boucher's comments came a day after Deputy Secretary of State John Negroponte said the US opposed the new Pakistani government's intended talks with pro-Taliban militants who have launched a series of suicide attacks on security forces in recent months.
"I don't see how you can talk to those kind of people," Negroponte said at a press conference in Karachi Thursday. The visiting envoy said the "extremist threat" in Pakistan is a cause of great concern.
Pakistan's new coalition government, headed by the slain Benazir Bhutto's PPP, has said it will talk with the militants while emphasizing a "comprehensive strategy" in dealing with growing militancy in tribal areas along Afghanistan border.
On Friday at the press conference with Boucher, Bhutto's widower Zardari said it was wrong for people to say Pakistan was fighting the war on terror for the US, and the PPP sees it as a war to protect Pakistan.
The war is in Karachi, Lahore and Islamabad, Zardari said, adding, "it happens to be our children, our people our women, our brothers and our sisters and we must protect Pakistan's sovereignty."
Pakistan's tribal areas are believed to be safe havens for al- Qaeda and Taliban militants, who fled to the area after the United States invaded Afghanistan in 2001.
Initially, the foreign fighters and their local supporters used the region to launch cross-border attacks on NATO-led forces in Afghanistan.
But they began targeting government forces when President Pervez Musharraf deployed more troops to curb militant activities, mainly over US pressure.
More than 1,000 people, including hundreds of Pakistani security personnel, have died in the suicide bombings by pro-Taliban militants over the last 12 months.