US to maintain close links with Musharraf despite criticism
UNITED STATES: Washington said it would continue its close
links with Pakistan military ruler Pervez Musharrafâ€™s administration
despite a call by a leading US newspaper to distance itself from the
The US State Department said it had faith in â€śwar on terrorâ€ť ally
Musharrafâ€™s efforts to implement political reforms, and hoped he would
keep his pledge to hold free and fair elections this year and shed his
â€śWe continue to work with the Musharraf government and others within
the Pakistani political system to continue their process of political
reforms,â€ť department spokesman Sean McCormack told reporters.
He said Musharraf, facing the biggest protests of his eight years in
power, had made â€śsome progressâ€ť in terms of political and economic
reforms as well as media freedom.
â€śWhat the Pakistani political system is learning â€” as you open up,
more of that brings with it heightened expectations for what might be
done,â€ť McCormack said, as the New York Times called Monday for
Washington to begin to sever its ties to Musharraf.
â€śPakistan seems to be rapidly approaching a critical turning point,
with a choice between intensified repression and instability or an
orderly transition back to democratic rule,â€ť the influential daily wrote
in an editorial.
â€śWere Washington now to begin distancing itself from the general, it
would greatly encourage civic-minded Pakistanis to step up the pressure
for free national elections.â€ť
The daily added that the George W. Bush administration â€śhas put
itself in the embarrassing position of propping up the Muslim worldâ€™s
most powerful military dictator as an essential ally in its half-baked
campaign to promote democracy throughout the Muslim world.
Washington, Tuesday, AFP