Secretary of State Colin Powell says he is confident Pakistan will remain stable and its nuclear weapons will stay in safe hands. Secretary Powell praised Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf's decision to cooperate with the United States in fighting terrorism.
He acknowledges President Musharraf is under tremendous pressure from Muslim groups in Pakistan. But he says the Musharraf government is secure. "President Musharraf made a courageous decision. And he did it with the full awareness of the potential domestic consequences," says Mr. Powell. "He is supported by all of his military commanders and all others in the government so I am confident Pakistan will remain stable."
Despite anti-American sentiment in his country, Pervez Musharraf said last week he would fully cooperate with U.S. efforts to track down reputed terrorist mastermind Osama Bin Laden and members of his al-Qaeda organization.
Pakistan borders Afghanistan and recognizes the ruling Taleban regime. President Musharraf has sent high level diplomats to Afghanistan to urge the Taleban to turn over Osama Bin Laden. He has also agreed to provide intelligence on al-Qaeda, open Pakistani airspace to American military aircraft, and provide logistical support.
Secretary Powell told NBC's "Meet the Press" that both Pakistan and India have promised to stand with the United States in the war on terrorism. He says the strong stands taken in Islamabad and New Delhi prompted President Bush to lift some of the sanctions imposed on these two countries after they tested nuclear weapons in 1998. "It's an important signal that we will stand by our friends who stand by us," Mr. Powell said.
The secretary of state said the administration started thinking about lifting sanctions on Pakistan and India some time ago. He said recent developments prompted President Bush to take official action on Saturday.