Washington favours 'fully functioning' democracy

September 17, 2004

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WASHINGTON, Sept 16: The United States urged the Musharraf government on Thursday to continue Pakistan's progress towards a 'fully functioning' democracy because it was in the country's long-term interest to do so.

The US reaction has come amid a bitter controversy in Pakistan over whether President Pervez Musharraf should continue as the army chief and the head of the state. Talking to Dawn, a State Department official also noted that Information Minister Shaikh Rashid Ahmed had already "retracted the statement" he had made on Wednesday.

"Our understanding is that President Musharraf has not taken a decision on this issue," said the official while explaining how Washington viewed the development. And then he strongly pleaded for democracy, saying: "We believe it is in Pakistan's long-term interest to continue its transition to a fully functioning democracy."

The official, who was reading a prepared statement depicting the Bush administration's views on the controversy, said: "We expect to see continuing progress towards this goal, which is central to Pakistan becoming a moderate and modern Islamic state."