The US is pressing the Pakistani leadership to hold "free, fair and transparent" elections that "meets international standards," said a top American diplomat for South Asia, who discussed the preparations for the polls due at the end of the year with the country's Chief Election Commissioner.
Discreetly silent on the controversy over President Pervez Musharraf's plan to get himself re-elected while holding the post of the Army chief, visiting US Assistant Secretary Richard Boucher said US was "adamant" that the general elections should be "free and fair", but wanted the crisis sparked off by the suspension of chief justice Iftikhar M Chaudhry to be left to the court to resolve it.
"The elections should be free, fair and transparent. They should meet international standards," said Boucher, who met Pakistani ruling and Opposition politicians and assured them that the US was pressing President Pervez Musharraf to hold free and fair elections in the country.
Without directly commenting on the Opposition parties' demand that Musharraf should quit as Army Chief, Boucher said that the President had made some commitments on the issues of fair polls, uniform and war on terrorism and the US believed that he would fulfil them.
He said the US wanted to have friendship with the people of Pakistan and not with just an individual.
On the crisis sparked off by Chaudhry's suspension, Boucher said US expected the judicial process in Pakistan to resolve the issue. He said that the judicial process had to be respected.
While assuring them about the US commitment for free and fair polls, Boucher, during a reception on Wednesday also briefed them about his talks with Pakistan Chief Election Commissioner Qadir Muhammad Farooq.