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Powell in Pakistan to Garner Support for War on Terror - 2001-10-15

U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell is in Pakistan to bolster support for the U.S. war against terrorism. In his talks with Pakistan's president, Pervez Musharraf, Mr. Powell is expected to focus on the military campaign in Afghanistan and on the shape of a future government to replace the Taleban in Kabul.

Secretary of State Powell says he has come to listen to General Musharraf's views on the situation in Afghanistan and to his concerns about the political future there.

Pakistan had close ties with the Taleban leadership in Kabul, but has condemned the September 11 terrorist attacks against the World Trade Center and the Pentagon and has given its support to the U.S. led coalition against terrorism.

Mr. Powell calls General Pervez Musharraf's decision to support the attacks a "bold and courageous move." But that support has provoked a wave of anti-U.S. demonstrations by radical Islamic groups in Pakistan that back the Taleban. At the same time, it has lifted Pakistan's profile with Western allies, especially Washington.

Mr. Powell will also discuss what might come after the Taleban leadership. Washington has been consulting with United Nations officials and several allies to develop contingency ideas about what may be needed. He has appointed a special coordinator, Richard Haass, to work with the United Nations on this.

Washington is in contact with the rival Afghan factions, from the Northern Alliance forces battling the Taleban inside Afghanistan, to the former Afghan king who lives in exile in Rome. A delegation has already met with Pakistan's foreign minister to talk about promoting a broad-based government in Afghanistan.

Pakistan worries that the Northern Alliance, made mostly of Tajiks and Uzbeks, would dominate the Pashtun groups that have close ties with Pakistan.

Mr. Powell also wants to talk with General Musharraf and other Pakistani officials about expanding U.S. military cooperation with Pakistan. Even before Pakistan offered its help for the anti-terrorism campaign, the Bush administration had worked on easing sanctions that were imposed three years ago after Pakistan and neighboring India conducted underground nuclear tests.