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'Musharraf pulled Pak away from brink of extremism'

world Updated: Aug 21, 2008 08:06 IST

Describing former president Pervez Musharraf as a good ally in the war on terror, US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has said "he pulled Pakistan away from the brink of extremism."

"...President Musharraf was a good ally in the war (on terror). He pulled Pakistan away from the brink of extremism," Rice said in Warsaw where she signed a deal yesterday to build a US defence missile base in Poland.

"I think people forget where Pakistan was in 2001, supporting the Taliban, not aggressive against al-Qaida. And a lot was achieved under his (Musharraf's) rule.

"And perhaps, he also took off his uniform and helped to smooth the path to civilian democratic rule in Pakistan. Now, the democratically elected Government of Pakistan does have to pay attention to this terrible militant threat," Rice said.

Musharraf stepped down as President on Monday nine years after he had grabbed power in a bloodless military coup. The US had banked on him to fight al-Qaida and Taliban forces in the restive northwest tribal regions bordering Afghanistan.

While seeking to strengthen ties with the new ruling coalition in Pakistan, Rice asked the "democratic" government to root out militants from its territory.

"... I hope they (ruling coalition) were united by the fact Pakistani people in their first free and fair election in quite a long time elected them all to help govern Pakistan. And were going to support this democratically elected government.

"We plan to do it by helping them economically... With the social programs and by working together on the militancy and the extremism that is threatening not just the US and Afghanistan, but threatening Pakistan as well," Rice said in an interview to CNN.