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US to ensure fair polling in Pak: Hadley

The White House national security advisor has said that the US will work with Prez Musharraf to ensure 2007 polls are 'free and fair'.

india Updated: Apr 06, 2006 14:20 IST

White House national security advisor Stephen Hadley said that the US administration would work with Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf to ensure 2007 elections in his country are "free and fair".

Hadley also said Washington "will encourage greater democratic reform and political freedom" in Pakistan in a speech to a forum of The National Bureau of Asian Research (NBR) here on Wednesday, according to a White House transcript.

"Our strategy with Pakistan is to encourage President Musharraf to take steps that will integrate Pakistan into the international community and to offer greater economic and political freedom to his people," the top foreign policy advisor of President George W Bush said.

"We will work with President Musharraf to ensure that the 2007 elections are free and fair," Hadley said.

Some political observers expect Musharraf -- who seized power in a 1999 military coup -- to seek election for a second term after general elections in 2007 although it is not clear if the vote will actually occur next year.

Musharraf won another five years of office in 2002 in a criticised referendum, and subsequently granted himself new powers including the right to dismiss an elected parliament.

The Pakistani leader is seen by the Bush administration as a vital ally in its "war on terror" and Hadley praised Musharraf in his speech for breaking with "terrorists and the Taliban" in the wake of the September 11, 2001 attacks on New York and Washington.

Hadley also said Musharraf has spoken "publicly about the need for democratic reform in his country".