New York, Feb.20 : The results of the February 18 elections in Pakistan are much better than what the United States could have hoped for, and more than President Bush deserved after over investing in President Pervez Musharraf and his anti-democratic excesses, a New York Times editorial has said.
The White House has long insisted that there was no choice but to look the other way as Musharraf jailed journalists and lawyers, dismissed the Supreme Court and declared emergency rule.
Musharraf has rejected calls to step aside as president, but should the PPP and the PML-N form a coalition in Parliament, they could yet force him out.
According to the editorial: "That's a decision for Pakistan's elected representatives to make - without Washington's intervention." It further suggests that President Bush must quickly reach out to Pakistan's newly elected parliamentary leaders, many of whom resent the United States for its uncritical support of Musharraf.
Bush could calm some of their anger by publicly warning to Musharraf that the United States will not tolerate any further political meddling, it says.
The Bush administration must also encourage Pakistan's coup-prone military to work with the new parliamentary leaders, making clear that continued military aid will in part be conditioned on their respect for democracy.
"Make no mistake, Mr. Musharraf's support for the war on terrorism was never as unstinting as Washington claimed," opines the editorial.