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Pakistan akan berkecuali di undian PBB keatas Iraq


Islamabad |Dari Shahid Hussain | 11-03-2003

Seorang pegawai kanan dari parti pemerintah Pakistan memberitahu Gulf News semalam bahawa negaranya bercadang berkecuali dari undian Majlis Keselamatn PBB yang menetapkan tarikh akhir untuk Iraq melupuskan senjata atau menghadapi perang. A senior official from Pakistan's ruling party told Gulf News yesterday that his government intends to abstain rather that vote against a UN Security Council resolution giving Iraq a deadline to disarm or face war.

Speaking after a dinner meeting of party officials and some members of the cabinet chaired by Pakistani Prime Minister Zafa-rullah Khan Jamali, the spokesperson said "we have decided to abstain."

His remarks followed Jamali's statement earlier yesterday that his country will not participate in any aggression against Iraq, while refusing to say how Pakistan would vote. "It will be very difficult for Pakistan to support an Iraqi war," Jamali told reporters. "When the time comes for the vote, let's see."

The prime minister's remarks were followed by U.S. officials saying U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell telephoned Pakistani President General Pervez Musha-rraf to lobby for a "yes" vote.

Jamali, who will pay an official visit to the United States from March 26 to 28, announced yesterday that "Pakistan will not become part of any aggression against Iraq."

Jamali said earlier in a statement from the floor of parliament that Pakistan's stand on Iraq was based on principles "Iraq is an important and sensitive matter and we realise the significance of this issue."

The prime minister added that he would also take the nation into confidence on this issue shortly. Officials said Jamali would address the nation this  evening on radio and television, when he is expected to speak on the Iraq crisis as well as domestic issues. This will be Jamali's first address to the nation since his election in November.

The Pakistani cabinet met yesterday to formulate a position in the context of the U.S.-British resolution at the UN Security Council seeking to set a March 17 deadline for Iraq to disarm or face military action.

An official statement afterwards said the cabinet "unanimously decided to continue to base Pakistan's position on Iraq crisis on principles and the national interest."

The statement stressed that Pakistan had consistently called for Iraqi compliance with all relevant Security Council resolutions and for a peaceful resolution of the crisis.

The statement quoted Jamali, who chaired the meeting, as saying that Pakistan's position would be "based on principles and not expediency" a reference to the huge benefits that has come to Pakistan for its frontline status in the war against terror.

The cabinet was briefed by Foreign Secretary Riaz Khokhar, the statement said but gave no further details.

Earlier, foreign ministry spokesman Aziz Ahmed Khan told reporters: "We will decide when the actual voting will take place, our position is very well known: we want the resolution of this problem through peaceful means."

Pakistan's parliament debated the Iraq crisis yesterday amid persistent opposition demands not to side with the United States in its plans to invade Baghdad.

Islamabad, which must weigh up its close alliance with the United States against loyalties to fellow Muslim countries and Islamist-led opposition at home, has made concerted calls for a peaceful resolution and urged Baghdad to comply with disarmament demands.

President Pervez Musharraf, also the country's army chief, has been courted by envoys of both sides in the past fortnight.

U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for South Asia Christina Rocca, Britain's former defence chief General Sir Charles Guthrie and Iraqi Information Minister Mohammed Said Al Sahhaf have all travelled to Islamabad since February 27 to vie for Pakistan's support.

Musharraf had said Friday his country was in a tough spot. A U.S.-led invasion of Iraq would almost certainly "have a fallout" in Pakistan, he told CNN television. "It is being seen as if the Islamic world was being targeted."

Despite the pleas for peace and concerns of heated domestic reaction, most Western diplomats believe Pakistan will back the U.S. "There's no doubt Musharraf will back the U.S. Anyone from the other side is wasting their time on Pakistan," an Islamabad-based diplomat said.

"I still think the chances are it will vote with America," said another diplomat

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