INTRO: The Clinton administration is strongly
condemning the shooting death of the lawyer defending
Pakistan's deposed Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. The
incident on Friday comes two weeks before President
Clinton is due to make a brief stop in Pakistan at the
end of a week-long trip to South Asia. Correspondent
Deborah Tate reports from the White House.
Text: White House spokesman Joe Lockhart was quick to
condemn the killing of Iqbal Raad and two others by
unidentified gunmen in Karachi Friday, calling it
"cowardly" and "a horrific act of violence."
But Mr. Lockhart said the incident would not affect
Mr. Clinton's plans to visit Pakistan after his stops
in India and Bangladesh. In fact, he argued, it makes
it all the more important for the president to
personally make the case for the return to democratic
rule in that country, where five months ago the
popularly elected Mr. Sharif was ousted in a military
coup by General Pervez Musharraf.
/// Lockhart Act ///
If anything, it underscores the need to press
for openness, democracy, constitutional rule --
and those are points we were already planning to
make, and we will make, while we are there.
/// End Act ///
Mr. Clinton made similar comments on Thursday. He
said his decision to go to Pakistan was not an
endorsement of the country's military government, but
rather an acknowledgement that keeping open lines of
contact with Pakistan offers the best prospect of
positive change there.
Regarding the President's own safety during the visit,
Mr. Lockhart declined to discuss security planning,
but gave assurances that Mr. Clinton would be
It is not clear whether the killing of lawyer Iqbal
Raad was linked to Mr. Sharif's trial. The deposed
Prime Minister faces charges of attempted murder and
hijacking stemming from his alleged attempt last
October to prevent General Musharraf's plane from
landing in Karachi hours before the coup.
Mr. Lockhart renewed the U-S call for a free, open and
transparent trial for Mr. Sharif so that - in his
words - "the rest of the world can see that justice is
10-Mar-2000 14:45 PM EDT (10-Mar-2000 1945 UTC)
Source: Voice of America
Join the GlobalSecurity.org mailing list