B. Muralidhar Reddy

Such incidents could affect cooperation, Burns told

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf on Saturday told the U.S. that Islamabad would not allow repeat of incidents like Bajaur in the Waziristan tribal agency on January 13/14.

Gen. Musharraf told visiting U.S. Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Nicholas Burns at Rawalpindi that such incidents could affect the cooperation with the U.S. against terrorism.

The air strike by the U.S. coalition reportedly at the behest of the CIA in pursuit of Al-Qaeda leaders led to 18 deaths and triggered protests all over the country. It is for the first time since the incident that Gen. Musharraf has gone on record on the subject.

Confusion

There is a great deal of confusion on the circumstances leading to the strike. Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz, currently in the U.S., has been quoted as saying investigations are in progress to ascertain whether or not Washington had shared information about the attack with Islamabad and also about the identity of some of the killed.

Gen. Musharraf is also believed to have said his uniform is not an obstacle for democracy and he will decide the matter in 2007. Parliament has voted to allow him retain his job as Chief of Army Staff.

Official sources here said Iran nuclear issue and the India-U.S. nuclear cooperation also figured in the discussion with Mr. Burns. Since the India deal in July last year, Pakistan has been pressing Washington to extend it a similar arrangement. So far the U.S. has declined to consider Pakistan on par with India but promised to help it take care of its energy requirements.