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'Continued US support to Musharraf must depend on free and fair elections'    2008-01-03 10:54:01    

Washington, Jan 3 : President Pervez Musharraf largely remains in power due to the backing of the Bush Administration, which supports him despite opposition from a large number of Pakistanis, a US based daily has said.
President Pervez Musharraf largely remains in power due to the backing of the Bush Administration, which supports him despite opposition from a large number of Pakistanis, a US based daily has said.

With the unfortunate backing of the Bush Administration, Musharraf has repeatedly acted in recent months to save himself at the expense of Pakistan's best interests, The Washington Post said.

The Post said that President George W Bush must now make it absolutely clear that continued support depends entirely on free, fair and credible parliamentary elections.

The paper said that Musharraf suspended the Constitution and imprisoned judges in order to push through an illegal extension of his own mandate as President.

Rather than confront the Islamist forces that are trying to upend Pakistan's secular order, Musharraf has waged war against journalists, judges, moderate political parties and civil society groups that should be his allies against al-Qaeda and the Taliban, it commented.

Under pressure from the Bush Administration, Musharraf allowed former premier Benazir Bhutto to return home and begin her election campaign, but before her murder, Bhutto said that she was convinced that the government intended to rig the elections so that Musharraf backed PML-Q remained in power.

So far Musharraf's manoeuvring has only compounded his troubles. And his government's apparent dissembling about the manner of Bhutto's death has only increased the suspicion of Pakistanis that the authorities may have had something to do with the assassination, the paper said.

The Post said that the postponement of January 8 elections is evidently intended to diminish a potential sympathy vote for Bhutto's party, increases the risk that Pakistanis will take their discontent to the streets.

Musharraf tried to strike a conciliatory note in a television address, saying that he shared Bhutto's goal of democracy, and announced that he had invited British investigators to join in the probe of her death.

But, if he will not resign, he needs to do much more if the February election is to stabilise Pakistan, the paper said.

The Post demanded that the Election Commission should be reshaped and opposition parties given a greater role in assembling the electoral rolls and conducting the vote. Remaining controls on the media must be lifted and imprisoned lawyers and judges freed, it added. (ANI)
© 2007 ANI

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