ISLAMABAD (AFP) — Pakistan's main Islamist party on Wednesday welcomed a pledge from US President Barack Obama to seek a "new way forward" with the Muslim world after eight turbulent years at the White House.
"We welcome it very much," said Khurshid Ahmed, a senior leader in the fundamentalist Jamaat-i-Islami -- the main religious political party in Pakistan and an organiser of angry demonstrations against the US and Israel.
Ahmed slammed outgoing US president George W. Bush, accusing him of "alienating the US and Americans from the Muslim world."
"Obama has to face the real issues, go into the causes and work seriously for the abdication of Bush's policies," Ahmed told AFP.
"Unless he does that, mere words will not be sufficient."
Ahmed, who, as senior party vice president deals with foreign and economic affairs, said Obama's move towards suspending cases before Guantanamo Bay courts was "good".
The hated US military detention centre that is used to hold suspects in the United States' "war on terror" has become a symbol of US excesses around the world.
Several Pakistanis are among those detained at the camp.
Ahmed called for detainees to be released immediately and said for "those who had been suffering there must be compensation and an apology".
He hailed Obama's promise for a fresh balance in using diplomatic and military powers, but questioned the extent to which political lobbies in the United States would restrain the new president.
"I am conscious of the difficulties Obama faces, I can only pray. I have some hopes but with due caution," he said.
Ahmed also voiced concern in the Muslim world about what he called Obama's "silence over the carnage of the Palestinians in Gaza."
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