US Vice President-elect Joseph Biden had played a major role in getting former Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf to doff his uniform,Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani said on Monday.
Justifying his government’s decision to bestow one of the country’s highest civilian honours on Biden,a move that has been criticised by opposition and Islamic hardline parties,Gilani said Biden is “pro-Pakistan” and “has given a lot of support for Pakistan and democracy”.
“At the same time,the Biden-Lugar bill envisages support of USD 15 billion for Pakistan and he had a big role in getting (former President Pervez) Musharraf to take off his military uniform. We then came close to free and fair elections,” the premier said. Musharraf,who had seized power in a bloodless coup in 1999,had been acting both as the President and the army chief of Pakistan before finally shedding his uniform in November 2007 under huge domestic and international pressure,including from the US.
During Biden’s visit in Pakistan last week with a bipartisan Congressional delegation,President Asif Ali Zardari had conferred the Hilal-i-Pakistan award on him.
The citation for the award said Biden was being recognised for his “consistent support for democracy and socio-economic development in Pakistan and for his outstanding contribution to the strengthening of US-Pakistan relations”.