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US wants return of democracy in Pak

Describing SC's ruling to allow Musharraf to contest in uniform as an "internal matter, US says it wants a smooth transition to democracy.

world Updated: Oct 03, 2007 19:52 IST

The US on Saturday said it wanted a "smooth and successful transition" to democratic civilian government in Pakistan even as it termed the Supreme Court ruling allowing President Pervez Musharraf to contest in uniform as an "internal matter" of the country.

"This is the internal matter of the country for politicians and courts to decide," US Assistant Secretary of South Asian and Central Asian Affairs Richard Boucher said when asked about Musharraf being allowed to seek re-election to the post of President while remaining as army chief.

"But the United States is interested that the process of transition to democratic civilian government should proceed smoothly and successfully," he told reporters on Friday.

Boucher also rejected suggestions that formation of a civilian government in Pakistan could adversely impact the country's fight against terrorism.

Stating that he has no plans to visit Pakistan before the Presidential election on October six, Boucher noted that a lot of questions have been raised in different fora, either politically or in court, about how to proceed to establishing a democratic rule and added "we are watching it."

Washington's desire is to see Pakistan succeed as a modern society. "Part of that success is making a successful and smooth transition to democratic and civilian government."

Asked whether the US believes a president without uniform would be more capable to continue war on terrorism and cooperation with it, Boucher said he appreciates what the Pakistani leaders have done over the last seven years since the 9/11 attacks but a lot of people in the country think that it is time for transition. It is time, Boucher said, to put politics on a more solid footing, "a footing of modernization, a footing of democracy, a footing of moderation."

Replying to a question, the US official said he does not agree with the premise that the fight against terrorism could be adversely affected if a civilian government takes over.

"Nobody in Pakistan wants terrorism. People in Pakistan that I've talked to from all the parties see Al- Qaeda, see the radicalization, the Talibanization as threat to their goals to build a modern society, their goals to build a modern economy, their goals to build a modern education system," he added.

"It's not just the army that's committed to fighting to terrorism. It's not just the politicians. It's really the vast majority of the whole society.... They understand that in order to modernize Pakistan, the need to deal with the threats of extremism to the whole society."

Stressing that an "enormous effort" has been made by the army, Boucher said, "they've had a fair amount of success. Unfortunately there are still dangerous people out there that are a threat to Pakistan, that are a threat to the US, that are a threat to the whole world. And they still have a ways to go before they get real control over some of those groups that are threatening all of us."

Boucher was also asked what was holding back the United States from granting same kind of status and same kind of privilege on nuclear power to Pakistan as to other countries.

He replied "I think you know the reasons, and I won't bother to get into them more here now".

Pointing to the aid Washington is giving to Pakistan to modernize education and improve economy, he said the smooth transition to democratic rule and civilian rule can place it on a more solid footing to deal with its problems.

First Published: Sep 29, 2007 10:03 IST