Washington, Nov 13: The Bush Administration is dispatching a high-level envoy to Pakistan to tell Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf that the US will not be satisfied with his plan to hold elections unless he lifts the emergency, administration officials have said.
The officials welcomed the news of the holding of elections in January, but questioned whether elections would be seen as legitimate if held under martial law.
"The President thinks we need to lift the emergency in order to have free and fair elections," said Dana Perino, the White House spokeswoman.
A senior Bush Administration official said it remained an open question whether free elections could be held in Pakistan, as long as Musharraf continued to jail or detain the opposition.
The comments reflected the increased frustration within the Bush Administration over Musharraf's power grab, as well as the mounting uneasiness about how much longer Pakistan can continue in the present chaos before descending into further instability.
Publicly, Bush Administration officials say that they continue to support Musharraf, who is still viewed by the Pentagon as America's best option for tackling al Qaeda.
"Nobody is ready to cut him off at the knees yet," the International Herald Tribune quoted an official, as saying.
Speaking on condition of anonymity, the official said that many people within the administration were worried that Musharraf's missteps would soon erode his base at home and he could be forced to give up power.
To prepare for that possibility, the Bush Administration has been taking care in recent days to try to distinguish between its support for Pakistan and its support for Musharraf.