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Pakistan Willing to Aid Iraq Reconstruction Under UN Mandate - 2003-09-24

Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf says his country will help in the stabilization and reconstruction of Iraq, if there is a United Nations mandate to do so. Mr. Musharraf addressed the U.N. General Assembly after a bilateral meeting in New York with President Bush.

The Bush administration is offering its draft resolution putting Iraq peacekeeping under a U.N. umbrella with the hope of bringing several key countries, including Pakistan, into the security operation.

And it has now gotten a clear indication that Pakistan, at least, would be among those taking part, provided the enabling Security Council resolution gives an adequate political mandate.

Giving his country's policy address to the U.N. General Assembly, Mr. Musharraf warned that if Iraq is allowed to remain an "open wound," it would "add a new dimension" to regional problems of terrorism and extremism. He said a consensus must be reached quickly at the United Nations on ways to restore Iraq's stability, security, and sovereignty, and said his country is prepared to do its part to help the Iraqi people achieve a representative democracy and "an end to occupation."

"The Iraqi people should resume control of their resources and political destiny as soon as possible," Mr. Musharraf said. "They must receive the full support of the international community, including Iraq's neighbors and the Arab and Islamic countries in building security and reconstructing their country. Pakistan would be prepared to help in a collective, United Nations-sanctioned Arab and Islamic effort to help the Iraqi people, if they themselves wish us to do so."

Pakistan is one of 10 elected members of the Security Council, which will soon take up the U.S.-backed resolution to give the world body more of a say in Iraqi peacekeeping and in that country's political transition. Mr. Musharraf addressed the General Assembly little more than an hour after a bilateral meeting with President Bush at a New York hotel.

In addition to Iraq, that session covered Afghanistan, and complaints raised at the U.N. Tuesday by Afghan President Hamid Karzai that Islamic militants are staging attacks against his country from Pakistani territory.

A senior Bush administration official said the problem does not necessarily reflect a lack of will on the part of the Musharraf government to stop incursions, and that the border region is rugged terrain that no one has ever fully controlled.

In his U.N. speech, Mr. Musharraf said the International Stabilization Force in Afghanistan should be expanded to insure security control over all parts of the country by the Karzai government. He said Pakistan would "continue to contribute to" interdicting and arresting al-Qaida and associated terrorists.

Elsewhere in the address, Mr. Musharraf said he was "glad" India "stepped back" from a military confrontation with his country last year over Kashmir. He said there has been some improvement in the "atmospherics" between the two South Asian powers since then.

But he said India has refused Pakistani offers of dialogue over Kashmir and has sought to "de-legitimize" what he said was an "indigenous" struggle by Kashmiris for self-determination by casting it as terrorism. Mr. Musharraf also accused India of embarking on a "massive" military buildup, which he said will destabilize the region and erode deterrence.