Fix 'serious distortions' before elections: US to Pak

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Washington, Jan,30: US Assistant Secretary of State for Central and South Asian Affairs, Richard Boucher, has told a sub-committee of the US House of Representatives here is pushing Pakistan to fix “serious distortions" in its prevailing system of governance before the February 18 elections.

Testifying before the National Security and Foreign Affairs sub-committee, Boucher reportedly conceded that “if history is any guide," some fraud might occur. However, he said, a vibrant, though restricted media, and international observers, including US officials, would help curb cheating during the forthcoming polls.

According to the Daily Times, he said Washington is doing everything to ensure a fair election, including preparing teams from the US Embassy to monitor major races around the country.

When asked if the situation in Pakistan could develop like the one in Kenya, where fighting after disputed elections has resulted in hundreds of deaths, he said, “We"ll know in two weeks."

Boucher said the US would respect the people"s verdict and was not wedded to any individual or party. Asked what the administration would do if President Musharraf was rejected at the polls, he replied that a fair election was not contrary to “our goals".

He also said that the Bush Administration does not support an UN investigation into the assassination of Benazir Bhutto and stated that the restoration of the deposed judges of the higher courts was a matter best left to the incoming government in Pakistan.

As far as direct US military intervention in Pakistan is concerned, he said Pakistan is a sovereign country and had the right to decide what it considers best-suited to its interests.

ANI

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