NATIONAL

'Working closely with Pakistan against terror'

ISLAMABAD, AUG. 4. The United States has claimed that it has ``dramatically re-fashioned its relationship'' with Pakistan in the wake of the 9/11 attacks and described the Pakistan President, Pervez Musharraf, as a ``friend'' of the country.

In its fact-sheet detailing actions taken consistent with 9/11 report related to Pakistan, the White House says that the U.S. and Pakistan are working closely in the fight against terror and that Pakistani forces are rounding up terrorists along its Afghanistan borders.

The 9/11 Commission said that if Gen. Musharraf stands for enlightened moderation in a fight for his life and for the life of his country, the U.S. should be willing to make ``hard choices'' too, and make the difficult and long term commitment to the future of Pakistan.

The Commission said that sustaining the current scale of aid to Pakistan, the U.S. should support Pakistan's Government in its struggle against extremists with a comprehensive effort that extends from military aid to support for better education, so long as Pakistan's leaders remain willing to make the ``difficult choices of their own.''

The fact-sheet said that even before 9/11 the Bush administration was actively engaged in diplomatic efforts to get Pakistan to change its policy of support for the Taliban and help eliminate the Al-Qaeda threat. ``President Bush personally wrote President Musharraf in February 2001 emphasising that [Osama] bin Laden and Al-Qaeda were a ``direct threat the United States and its interest that must be addressed'' and urging Gen. Musharraf to use his influence with the Taliban on this critical issue, it said.

'A friend'

According to the fact-sheet again in August 2001, Mr. Bush personally asked Gen. Musharraf for Pakistan's active engagement against Al-Qaeda. Today, the U.S. and Pakistan are working closely in the fight against terror, and Pakistani forces are rounding up terrorists along their nation's western border. ``President Musharraf is a friend of our country, and has taken out of commission over 500 Al-Qaeda and Taliban operatives, including Khalid Sheik Mohammed, the operational planner behind the 9/11 attacks.''

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