Washington, Jan 24: After Pakistan's cricketer-turned-politician Imran Khan expressed deep concern before a top Democrat US Senator that the February 18 polls might be rigged, the latter is learnt to have urged US President George Bush to reduce developmental aid to Islamabad if the polls were not held in a free and fair manner.
Khan is currently visiting the US. "I believe that the United States needs to look closely at the assistance we send to Pakistan. If President Musharraf does not allow full and free elections and does not restore freedoms, we need to consider reducing non-development aid to Pakistan," The Nation quoted Senator Harry Reid as saying here last evening in a statement after his meeting with Khan.
Khan reportedly told the Democratic leader that the continued US backing of Musharraf risked "alienating Pakistanis and increasing extremism" in the country.
After the meeting with the Tehreek-i-Insaf chief, Reid said that Washington must support the people of Pakistan rather than individuals. "Today's meeting made it even clearer that the United States must support the people of Pakistan rather than individuals in that nation's government who oppose democracy," Reid added.
On the occasion, Imran also expressed "deep concern" about the Pakistani judiciary, saying that Pakistan could not have true democracy, or free and fair elections, without reinstating the head of the SC and the rest of the judges whom Musharraf had dismissed.
Earlier, addressing a Washington think-tank, Imran again made a strong case for an independent judiciary in Pakistan. "Sadly, the US administration talked about elections, but did not talk about the reinstatement of the judges, which is the key to holding free and fair elections. This flawed policy has not only increased anti-Americanism in Pakistan but it has also inadvertently fuelled terrorism in the country," he added.