Washington: After an unusually sharp criticism of Pakistan Government’s crackdown on Opposition, the US has told Islamabad that the developments there were ‘troubling’ and the ‘best outcome’ for the Islamic country will be to have ‘free and fair’ elections.
“Some of this is troubling and we've certainly told the Pakistanis that it's troubling and they know our views on this,” US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said in an interview to Reuters Editorial Board, text of which was released by the US State Department.
Rice was asked whether President of Pakistan Gen Pervez Musharraf is getting ‘more authoritarian’ with elections drawing nearer in the light of a series of arrests of Opposition political activists.
“... We've been really clear with Pakistan that we expect these elections to be free and fair. John (Deputy Secretary of State) Negroponte was there and he had long discussions.”
“Some of this is still being adjudicated in the Pakistani system and the very fact that it is being adjudicated in the Pakistani system says something about how far Pakistan has come,” the US official said.
“... there are troubling elements here and the best outcome is going to be for Pakistan to have elections. I think the parliamentary elections in particular are going to need to meet a standard that everybody can say, well, yes, that was a... election in which people had a chance to voice their views and where the outcomes are recognizably free and fair,” she added.