WASHINGTON (AFP) — White House foes John McCain and Barack Obama on Monday welcomed the resignation of Pakistan's President Pervez Musharraf, both expressing hopes the move would end that country's political crisis.
In separate statements, the candidates, who have been squabbling over foreign policy, noted the vital role Pakistan plays in the US battle against global terrorism, but stopped short of praising Musharraf.
Democratic candidate Obama said the United States must press the next Pakistani government to carry out a crackdown against Al-Qaeda and the Taliban.
"There can be no safe haven for terrorists who threaten the American people," said, Obama, who once said he would be ready as president to strike against terror suspects in Pakistan if Islamabad did not act on US intelligence.
"I have long said that the central terrorist threat to the United States lies in northwest Pakistan and Afghanistan, and not Iraq," Obama said.
"A year ago, I advocated that the US move from a 'Musharraf policy' to a 'Pakistan policy," he said, calling on friends of Pakistan to use the president's departure to deal with extremism and food and energy shortages.
Republican McCain said the resignation of Musharraf was a step toward moving Pakistan onto a more stable political footing."
"Pakistan is a critical theater in countering the threat of Al-Qaeda and violent Islamic extremism, and I look forward to the government increasing its future cooperation," McCain said in a statement.
The senators issued their responses hours after Musharraf quit to avoid impeachment after nine years of US-backed rule and a key role as a premier American anti-terror ally.
"There are serious problems that must be addressed," McCain said.
"The situation in Pakistan's frontier regions requires immediate and continued attention, and I hope that the elections for President Musharraf's successor will serve to reconcile the Pakistani people behind a leader who can solidify their government internally.
"It is critical that the United States continue to work in partnership with the Pakistani people and their democratically elected government to tackle the many challenges we both face."
The two statements did not mirror praise for Musharraf's role as an ally in the US-declared war on terrorism which was contained in earlier comments by US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.
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