US senators urge steps for genuine democracy

January 24, 2008

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KARACHI, Jan 23: A number of influential US senators have written a letter to President George Bush calling upon him to take certain immediate steps for promotion of legitimate democracy, reconciliation and stability in Pakistan.

They stressed the need for a UN probe into the assassination of Benazir Bhutto, restoration of pre-Nov-3 judiciary and formation of a neutral election commission.

According to a message received here, the senators said that the tragic assassination of the PPP chairperson and the ensuing crisis required the US to act quickly. They said that an international investigation into Ms Bhutto’s vicious murder, in full cooperation with the authorities in Pakistan, was the best way to bring about reconciliation and win support of the people. They urged President Bush to call for such an investigation and to press President Pervez Musharraf and his government for their full support and cooperation.

“You have often spoken of how a stable, democratic Pakistan is in America’s national security interests and a strong ally in combating terrorism. In that regard release of all judges, lawyers and others who protested the period of emergency rule and remain incarcerated or under house arrest is critical,” the senators said, adding that the US president should urge President Musharraf to undertake these step and to undo the other restrictions on personal and press freedom and the rule of law that were imposed during emergency rule.

The lawmakers also said that fair and free elections were necessary to Pakistan’s long-term stability and the country’s future progress. And in this regard a reconstitution of the Election Commission and restoration of an independent judiciary were truly essential.

They also urged the president to call upon the government of Pakistan to reinstate the dismissed Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Pakistan and other judges.

The senators who signed the letter are: Russell D. Feingold, Gordon Smith, Edward M. Kennedy, Robert C. Byrd, Charles E. Schumer, Robert Menendez, Robert P. Casey Jr, and Benjamin L. Cardin.