US hopes Pakistan coalition holds together after Musharraf exit

August 21st, 2008 - 10:10 am ICT by IANS  

Washington, Aug 21 (IANS) The US has offered support to Pakistan’s ruling coalition to curb militancy and extremism threatening US, Afghanistan and Pakistan, while hoping it holds together even after the exit of former President Pervez Musharraf.”Well, I hope they were united by the fact that the Pakistani people in their first free and fair election in quite a long time elected them all to help govern Pakistan,” Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice told CNN in Warsaw, Poland.

“And we’re going to support this democratically elected government,” she said when asked if Washington’s main concern right now was that the coalition partners don’t turn on each other as they were united only by their opposition to Musharraf.

The US planned to do it by helping them economically and with social programmes, Rice said according to a transcript released by the State Department Wednesday.

“We’re also going to do it by working together on the militancy and the extremism that is threatening not just the United States and Afghanistan, but threatening Pakistan as well.”

Asked if the new regime can deliver more than Musharraf did, the top US diplomat again praised the role of Musharraf as “a good ally in the war on terror” as also for taking off his army uniform to pave the way for a democratic government in Pakistan.

“What president Musharraf did was to pull Pakistan away from the brink of extremism,” she said. “I think people forget where Pakistan was in 2001, supporting the Taliban, not aggressive against Al Qaida. And a lot was achieved.”

“And perhaps as importantly, he also took off his uniform and helped to smooth the path to civilian democratic rule in Pakistan,” Rice said. “Now, the democratically elected Government of Pakistan does have to pay attention to this terrible militant threat.”

Earlier, in another interview with BBC in Brussels, she said to help the democratically elected Pakistani government economically, the US is supporting a package within the G-8 finance ministers.

“We want to help them in terms of social development, educational reform, all of the things that they want to do.”

US didn’t always agree with Musharraf, but he served well as an ally in the war on terror, Rice said. “For instance, we didn’t agree with the state of emergency several months ago.”

“But we all have an interest in fighting terrorism and the militants, because the militants are not just after the United States or Afghanistan,” she said. “These are the people who, after all, assassinated (former Pakistan prime minister) Benazir Bhutto. These are the people who have launched attacks throughout Pakistan.”

“And so the government does need to focus on what it is going to do to stop these militants,” Rice said, aading this was conveyed very recently when the Pakistani Prime Minister Syed Yousaf Raza Gillani was in Washington to meet with President George W. Bush.

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