WASHINGTON – Pakistan's ambassador to the United States, Maleeh Lodhi, Wednesday reiterated her country's commitment to fighting international terrorism but insisted that U.S. troops on its soil will not be part of that support.
Speaking to the Congressional Women's Caucus, Lodhi said Pakistan's "support to the coalition remains strong and unwavering."
She reiterated an agreement by Pakistani President Gen. Pervez Musharraf to allow the United States to use its airspace and to exchange intelligence.
"We continue to stand where we were. We are obligated to deliver on our commitment," Lohdi said.
Questions have arisen over Pakistan's commitment to evolve from its deep-rooted ties to Afghanistan. Pakistan, which shares a 1,500-mile border with Afghanistan, is the only nation that continues to recognize the Taliban regime. Thousands of Afghan refugees live in Pakistan and many Pakistani citizens sympathize with them and blame the United States for their plight.
Last week, thousands of Pakistanis demonstrated in the streets and burned effigies of President Bush.
"Pakistan is a fragile political society and we don't want to burden [it] ... if it isn't 100 percent necessary to put 3,000 troops there, we shouldn't ask for it," Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage said.
Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld will skip Pakistan this week during a three-day trip to Central Asia and the Middle East to solidify support for the terror-fighting mission. During the hastily called trip, Rumsfeld will visit with leaders in Saudi Arabia, Oman, Egypt, and Uzbekistan, a former Soviet republic.