US Democrats call for more pressure on Pakistan

US Democratic presidential candidates said on Thursday they would step up pressure on President General Pervez Musharraf over democracy, and criticized White House policy towards Islamabad.
In a presidential campaign debate, front-runner Hillary Clinton rebuked President George W. Bush for not acting on her suggestion earlier this year to appoint a special envoy to Pakistan.
“We are now in a bind. It is partly, not completely, but partly, a result of the failed policies of the Bush administration,” the New York Senator said.
“That requires presidential attention, we haven’t had that, and part of the reason is obvious now.”
Clinton’s main rival, Illinois Senator Barack Obama said he would work to convince President Gen Pervez Musharraf to restore democracy and stability in Pakistan.
“I will do everything that is required to make sure that nuclear weapons don’t fall into the hands of extremists, especially going after al Qaeda in the hills between Afghanistan and Pakistan,” he said.
Senator Joseph Biden, who, as chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations committee, has spoken to Gen Musharraf since the crisis began, said he would condition US military aid to Pakistan on a restoration of democracy.
“What we should do is move from a Gen Musharraf policy to a Pakistan policy … and you have to move from military aid to giving to the middle class there.”
“We have to significantly increase our economic aid relative to education, relative to NGOs, relative to all those things that make a difference in the lives of ordinary people.”
Senator John Edwards, the former Democratic party vice presidential nominee, said the crisis in Pakistan showed that the US policy on stopping the spread of nuclear weapons was flawed.
“What I will do, as president of the United States, is to lead a long-term international effort to rid the world of nuclear weapons,” he said.

Copyright AFP (Agence France-Presse), 2007