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Saturday 1 October 2011

US Finds New Friend in Uzbeks after Pakistan Fallout


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(Pakistan Today) – The past fortnight has seen relations between Pakistan and the US sink to new lows, making both counties scramble to build up alternative regional alliances. The crisis, the latest in a turbulent year, arose after the US alleged that the ISI was working with the Haqqani network to direct attacks on American targets in Afghanistan.

Islam Karimov meets George W. Bush in 2002
Alex Wong/Getty Images)

However, more than a third of supplies to NATO forces in Afghanistan pass through Pakistan, giving Islamabad a strong bargaining position. According to a report in the Telegraph, a White House official said US President Barack Obama had discussed sending more supplies through the former Soviet republic of Uzbekistan during a phone call with the country’s president, Islam Karimov. At the same time, Hillary Clinton met her Uzbek counterpart on Thursday, and Congress was considering legislative changes that would allow more military aid to the Central Asian despite its poor human rights record, the paper said.

“We value our relationship with Uzbekistan. They have been very helpful to us with respect to the Northern Distribution Network,” Clinton said. That route winds its way through Eastern Europe, Russia and Central Asia to Afghanistan and has already become more important in the past year as the US began switching supplies from Pakistan’s roads. But closer ties will anger human rights organisations which have protested proposed plans to send military aid to Uzbekistan for the first time since 2004, when funds were choked off as penalty for the country’s poor human rights record, the Telegraph said.

Twenty groups, mostly pro-Islamist lobbyist, including Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and International Crisis Group, signed a letter of protest sent to Clinton before her meeting with Ganiev.

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