Recently the White House spokesmen had to explain, President bush did not aim at offending the Pakistani when he called them “Paks”. On the day when Pakistan’s President Musharraf met with Anthony Blair, President Bush made a special statement. He probably wanted to support Blair’s efforts in settlement of the Pakistani-Indian conflict. The US president told: “We try to assure the Indians and the Paks in the significance of the conflict’s peaceful settlement.” Bush’s slip of the tongue, that turned the Pakistani into Paks, seemed to be rather offensive for the US’s allies in the anti-terror operation. The statement also required comments of the White House spokesmen. They said, President Bush respected the people of Pakistan and their culture. Pakistan is one of the key members of the international anti-terror coalition. And the shortening of the name was purely accidental.
George W. Bush also urged Pakistan’s president to definitely declare his intention to struggle with terrorism. Later Musharraf’s statement on repudiation of terrorism in any forms followed. Observers think, it represents a new approach of the Pakistani authorities to the problem. Earlier they named Islamic militants in Kashmir “fighters for freedom”. But, despite the statements of the Pakistani authorities, the USA expects much more from them. But “the Paks”, pronounced so casually, will hardly come up to the expectations of the USA.
It is no wonder that the Pakistani object to crossing of the border between Afghanistan and Pakistan by the US troops. And the Pakistani authorities have already denied any information that such a permission had been received. The USA would like to expand the conflict’s area and make crossing of the Afghan-Pakistani border easier for pursuit of Al Qaeda members. Pakistan says, it has enough force to catch terrorists on its territory.
The only thing left for the USA is to surmise, whether the Pakistani authorities made such a decision, or Bush’s casual statement turned out to be so offensive for them. Hopefully, in future the US officials will be more careful about statements say pronounce. Otherwise it may end in a break-up of the whole anti-terror coalition.
Sergey Borisov PRAVDA.Ru
Translated by Maria Gousseva
Read the original in Russian: http://pravda.ru/main/2002/01/11/35459.html