Washington, Nov 4 : Asserting that Washington supports only constitutional means to deal with whatever circumstances Pakistan finds itself in, US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has said that she spoke to President General Pervez Musharraf over the last several days.
In an interview to the CNN after the proclamation of emergency in Pakistan, Rice said, “I have spoken to President Musharraf over the last several days. And, our ambassador has been in constant contact with President Musharraf and with members of the Pakistani government, and so have other high-ranking officials.”
Urging everyone in Pakistan to be restrained and to avoid violence during the state of emergency, Rice said anything that takes Pakistan “off the democratic path, off the path of civilian rule, is a step backwards,” and it is highly regrettable.
"I certainly hope that the intention is to have free and fair elections, so we have been told that Pakistan will stay on the path to free and fair elections. We expect that to happen. The international community expects that to happen. And, a return to the constitutional order as quickly as possible would permit free and fair elections,” Rice said.
On being asked if she trusted Musharraf’s promise to hold free and fair elections, Rice said the Bush administration expect that this pledge is going to be upheld.
"We expect, we expect that it is going to be upheld. And, it is our policy. It is our view. And, we have communicated very clearly to the Pakistanis that the whole thing of free and fair elections is an absolute necessity,” she said.
Commenting on what would be Washington’s next course of action on this latest development in Pakistan, Rice said the US would wait to see what the extent of this is, and emphasised the need for acting with restraint.
“We have been very clear too that we would hope that everyone would act with restraint. There really should not be violence. There should not be activity that will disturb calm, because it is a difficult time for Pakistan,” she added. (ANI)