The United States on Monday welcomed the peaceful
outcome of the week-long political crisis in Pakistan, saying it brought the
country "back from the brink" of broader political upheaval. U.S. Secretary of
State Hillary Clinton made calls to key Pakistani officials to try to defuse
Clinton made unusual direct telephone appeals on Saturday to
Pakistan's President Asif Ali Zardari, Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani and
opposition leader Nawaz Sharif to try to ease tensions.
But in a press
appearance here, she said the resolution of the standoff - with the
reinstatement of the country's deposed Supreme Court Chief Justice Iftikhar
Mohammed Chaudhry - was a resolution by the Pakistanis themselves and a hopeful
first step toward broader dialogue.
Clinton's telephone diplomacy capped several days
of intensive U.S. efforts to help bring Pakistan, as one officials here put it,
"back from the brink" of a broader crisis that some analysts say threatened the
Speaking to reporters with Irish Foreign Minister
Michael Martin, Clinton said Pakistani leaders did not need her to tell them
what was at stake in the political standoff, and that its resolution is a
hopeful sign for the future.
"I believe that the resolution they have
agreed upon is the first step of what has to be an ongoing reconciliation and
compromising of political views that can stabilize civilian democracy and the
rule of law, both of which are essential to the efforts that the Pakistanis
themselves see as so critical - namely preventing extremism and violence from
stalking the Pakistani peoples and the country," she said.
Department Acting Spokesman Robert Wood said Clinton, in her calls to the
Pakistani leadership on Saturday, urged a non-violent settlement of the
confrontation with the opposition and said that there should be no impediments
to peaceful, democratic assembly.
Wood did not say whether Clinton
specially urged the reinstatement of Chief Justice Chaudhry. But he said the
United States welcomes the decision by President Zardari as important for moving
the process of reconciliation forward and upholding the rule of law.
said British Foreign Secretary David Miliband joined Clinton in the weekend
intervention, reflecting the two Western allies' worry that the crisis would
negatively affect efforts against extremists in the Pakistani-Afghan border
"Our concern, clearly, was that tensions were heating up and that
they need to calm down, and that indeed these tensions were diverting the
government of Pakistan away from its principle enemies - al-Qaida and the
Taliban," he said. "The Secretary felt that she needed to make these phone
calls. And we're very pleased to see the Pakistani leadership has taken some
decisions that are moving the country at least back on a path towards
Clinton is expected to meet her Pakistani counterpart,
Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi, at a Dutch hosted conference at the end
of this month at the Hague aimed at promoting stability in Afghanistan.