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6/26/04 - PAKISTAN-U.S. DEFENSE PARTNERSHIP - 2004-06-28

President George W. Bush has designated Pakistan a “major non-NATO ally.” As such, Pakistan will have greater access to U.S. defense equipment and defense research programs. Other major non-NATO allies are Argentina, Australia, Bahrain, Egypt, Israel, Jordan, Japan, South Korea, Morocco, New Zealand, the Philippines, and Thailand. U.S. State Department Deputy Spokesman Adam Ereli says the designation demonstrates America's “commitment to a positive and long-term relationship with Pakistan.”

Mushahid Hussain, chairman of the Pakistani Senate Foreign Affairs Committee, says increased security cooperation between the U.S. and Pakistan is good for the entire South Asian region: “So over all, I would think it is very positive for Pakistan's national security and it is very positive for regional stability.”

Mr. Hussain says it is clear that the U.S. welcomes the role Pakistan is playing in the war against terrorism:

“This implies the recognition by the United States of America of Pakistan's role as a pivotal player in the campaign against terrorism after 9/11, and also that Pakistan's role is positive and that this role is now recognized in the United States and internationally as well.”

Pakistani authorities recently captured ten suspected terrorists linked to al-Qaida. They include Masoob Aroochi, nephew of Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, the alleged planner of the September 11th, 2001, attacks on the U.S. Pakistani Interior Minister Faisal Saleh Hayat said that eight of the suspects “confessed to a key role” in the June 10th attempt on the life of Lieutenant General Ahsan Saleem Hayat. Dawood Badeni, a top leader of the Lashkar-I-Jhangvi terrorist group, is also in Pakistani custody. Badeni is believed to have planned the attack on the Ashura procession in Quetta, in March, that killed more than forty people.

President George W. Bush says that Pakistan is not alone in standing up to the threat of al-Qaida and other terrorist groups:

“The enemies of freedom are opposed by a great and growing alliance -- nations that won the Cold War, nations once behind an iron curtain, and nations on every continent see this threat clearly."

“As in the struggles of the last century,” says Mr. Bush, “civilized nations are waging this fight together.”