US will ensure emergency is lifted in Pak on Dec 15: Rice

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Washington, Dec 11: US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has said that the United Sates will continue to use its influence to ensure that the emergency in Pakistan is lifted on Dec 15 and free and fair elections are held as scheduled.

Replying to a question at the Women Foreign Policy Group"s annual luncheon here, Rice said the US was also trying to bring together moderate forces in the country to oppose extremism.

Commenting on the US Government"s role in the events unfolding in Pakistan, Rice said the US had played the role of "encouraging the Pakistanis" to take these measures.

She said President Pervez Musharraf"s decision to give up his uniform was a "very important" decision. "It is very important now that the state of emergency ends when they"ve said that it"s going to end and it"s very important that they carry out free and fair elections," Rice added.

"That would put Pakistan back on a course toward democratic reform," the Dawn quoted her, as saying.

Rice credited the Musharraf regime with creating a situation that allowed a "vibrant civil society" to function and a free media to operate.

"Some of those changes have come during the period of Musharraf"s rule, but it"s important now that they take the next step, that they go for free and fair elections," she said.

Rice said that the coming together of moderate forces would help Pakistan "move yet to a step further away from extremism" because Pakistan has had very deep extremist elements within it.

"It"s important that they be rooted out, and it"s important that moderate forces triumph," she concluded.


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