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Free, fair polls in Pak not going to be easy: Rice

The Bush administration has admitted that free and fair polls in Pakistan "is not going to be easy", but the Musharraf regime understands that there has to be an election that "inspires confidence" in the people.
By HT Correspondent | PTI, Washington
UPDATED ON FEB 14, 2008 01:23 PM IST

The Bush administration has admitted that free and fair polls in Pakistan "is not going to be easy", but the Musharraf regime understands that there has to be an election that "inspires confidence" in the people.

" It's (fair polls) not going to be easy. We all are concerned about the potential for violence. We're all concerned, of course, about the potential that there will be at least pockets where there may be problems with the elections," Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice told a hearing at the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

But "I believe that the Pakistani leadership understands that they have to have an election that inspires confidence in the Pakistani people that this is a step forward for democracy," Rice said when asked by Senator John Kerry about the prospects for the February 18 general election.

Rice said the US should keep pressing and encouraging the Pakistani leadership to hold free polls.

"Once that is done, once the elections are over, the key is going to be to bring about a government that, again, can inspire that there are a wide range of moderate voices that have been integrated into it," Rice said.

Rice said Washington will "listen very closely" to international monitors like the European Commission and NGOs on the fairness of the election.

"We are asking that everybody at the time of the elections refrain from violence and try to resolve any differences politically," she added.

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