Free and fair elections not possible with emergency in Pak: Rice

November 14th, 2007 - 10:30 am ICT by admin  

In a an interview with the Dallas Morning News, Rice said the situation in Pakistan is “very strained” and “we really would like to see Pakistan end the state of emergency as quickly as possible.”

Stating that the announcement of election timings by President General Pervez Musharraf was a “good” step, she said that it “needs to be accompanied by a clear indication from Musharraf that he will take off his uniform, and when.

“It should also be made very clear that the opposition is obviously going to be permitted to have a voice, which to my mind means that the media restraints need to come off, they need to release people who have been arrested for political activity and so forth,” the Daily Times quote Rice, as saying.

Rice said when we talk to Musharraf, “we talk about the fact that it’s unfortunate that this path on which he had launched Pakistan, he’s somehow decided that he needed to take this detour, and he needs to get back on as quickly as possible.”

When told that Musharraf was losing the support of moderate elements, Rice replied, “Well, as I said, we want moderate elements to unite. I still think that Musharraf is someone who does not believe in extremism and believes that Pakistan needs to be brought back from extremism.”

She added that the longer the present situation goes on, the harder that will become to get back to the desired path and “that’s another reason that the state of emergency needs to be removed pretty quickly.”

When asked what kind of a person Musharraf was, she answered, “First of all, he has a rock solid dedication to his country. We think this (the emergency) was a bad decision.”

She went on to say that the US has continued to encourage a “moderate centre, which focuses on people like former Prime Minister Bhutto” and because of extremism in the country, it is “extremely important” that the moderate centre is there.

The 10 billion dollars in aid given to Pakistan had not gone to Musharraf, but was given to help the Pakistanis combat terrorism, Rice said. (ANI)

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