[an error occurred while processing this directive]
BBC News
watch One-Minute World News
Last Updated: Thursday, 25 September, 2003, 08:58 GMT 09:58 UK
Pakistanis laud Musharraf UN speech
By Zaffar Abbas
BBC correspondent in Islamabad

Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf's address to the UN General Assembly has been well received in his country.

An elderly Pakistani protests over US policy
The president has been accused of being an American lackey

The president said Pakistan would only send troops to Iraq if there was a UN consensus behind it and he called for better relations between Islam and the West.

The Pakistani newspapers have given extensive coverage to the speech, and one of them described his comments on Iraq as "frank".

Even some opposition leaders who have described him as an American lackey welcomed his comments - but they said domestic pressures alone prevented President Musharraf from accepting the US request to send troops to Iraq.

In a country deeply divided along political lines, there seems to be a consensus on at least one issue - Pakistan should not try to bail out the US forces in Iraq by sending its own troops.

Opinion may be divided on the way Saddam Hussein ruled Iraq, but most Pakistanis regard the US-led invasion of the country as unjust.

Domestic backlash

Welcoming President Musharraf's insistence on a UN-backed multinational force, a governing party MP, Mushahid Hussain, said the Pakistani troops would not like to become the cannon fodder for the American forces in Iraq.

The alliance of six religious parties, the MMA, has been strongly opposed to the US policies in Afghanistan and Iraq and describes President Musharraf as a lackey of the United States.

A senior MMA leader, Khursheed Ahmed, said that had it not been for domestic political pressure, the Pakistani leader would have accepted Washington's demand to send troops to Iraq and, as he put it, would even have recognised Israel.

He said it would be a blunder if at any time Pakistan decided to become part of the occupation force in another Islamic country.

Although Pakistan has been a major contributor to UN-led peace operations in a number of countries, it has remained reluctant to send troops to the war-torn Islamic state.

Pakistani officials say there is a genuine fear of a domestic backlash if their troops became engaged in armed conflict with Iraqi opposition forces.

India derides 'obsessed' Pakistan
25 Sep 03  |  South Asia
Pakistan willing to send Iraq troops
24 Sep 03  |  South Asia
Pakistan and the US - friends in need?
23 Sep 03  |  South Asia

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites


News Front Page | Africa | Americas | Asia-Pacific | Europe | Middle East | South Asia
UK | Business | Entertainment | Science/Nature | Technology | Health
Have Your Say | In Pictures | Week at a Glance | Country Profiles | In Depth | Programmes
Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific