No asylum for Musharraf: Rice

August 18th, 2008 - 1:33 am ICT by IANS  

A file-photo of Pervez Musharraf
By Arun Kumar
Washington, Aug 17 (IANS) US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has ruled out giving asylum to “good ally” President Pervez Musharraf to bail him out as he faces impeachment by Pakistan’s new democratic government. “This is an issue that is not on the table and just want to keep our focus on what we must do with the democratic government of Pakistan,” she said in an interview with Chris Wallace on Fox News Sunday.

Asked if it would be in the best interest of Pakistan for Musharraf to step down and avoid a long and bitter impeachment trial, Rice said: “This is a matter for the Pakistanis to resolve.”

“And we have been supportive of the democratic elections that took place in Pakistan; in fact, advocated for them,” said the top US diplomat.

The US, she said had been supportive of Pakistan’s new democratic government, as witnessed by the President George W. Bush’s meetings with Pakistani Prime Minister Syed Yousaf Raza Gillani. “So this is a matter for Pakistan to determine.”

Indicating a hands-off approach to the crisis in Pakistan, Rice said: “President Musharraf has been a good ally. And everyone knows that we disagreed with his decision in terms of the state of emergency that he declared. But he kept to his word, he took off the uniform.”

But “it’s now a democratic government in Pakistan”, she said. “Pakistan and the United States have a joint interest in fighting terror, because these terrorists are not just after the US and Afghanistan.”

“They’re also after Pakistan as demonstrated by the fact that they killed (former Pakistan premier Benazir) Bhutto,” she said.

“That’s what we’re concentrating on, and helping Pakistan to sustain its economy, to build its schools, its health. We have a broad Pakistan policy,” Rice said.

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