US hopes polls lead to ‘civilian democracy’

February 19, 2008


WASHINGTON, Feb 18: The United States on Monday welcomed the holding of an “important” election in Pakistan and hoped that it would lead to an elected civilian democracy in the country.

“We are pleased that elections have been conducted in Pakistan,” said a US State Department official while talking to Dawn. “This is an important step on the path towards an elected civilian democracy that reflects the choices of the Pakistani people.”

The official said the United States and others in the international community have stressed the importance of “having as free, fair and transparent an election process as possible.”

The official also noted that many international and independent Pakistani missions monitored the election and the US administration was eagerly waiting for the assessment of the process.

“We look forward to reviewing all their assessments in the days ahead. We will wait for the final election results and the chance to review the monitoring groups’ reports before commenting further on the process,” the official said.

Pakistan’s election became almost a domestic issue in the United States, featuring prominently in the campaign for the 2008 presidential election in this country.

The Pakistani election has also been debated regularly in the US Congress with both prominent Republican and Democratic leaders vowing to use their influence to ensure that the elections are fair and free.

The US administration also has vowed to play its role but has conceded that it expects these elections to be ‘credible … not perfect’, as Assistant Secretary of State Richard Boucher has said more than once.

Even the US military, which does not comment on political issues, has been talking about the importance of the Pakistani elections.

From Defence Secretary Robert Gates to Chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Michael G. Mullen, all have said that the military alone cannot defeat the Taliban and Al Qaeda militants hiding in Pakistan’s tribal territory.

Both State Department and Pentagon officials insist that to win this war, President Pervez Musharraf needs political support.

On Friday, State Department’s spokesman Sean McCormack told a briefing that it was the need for political support for the war against terror that forced Washington to arrange a truce between President Musharraf and former prime minister Benazir Bhutto.