US distancing itself from Musharraf: US Deputy Secretary

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Washington, Feb 29 : United States' Deputy Secretary of State John Negroponte has hinted that the Bush Administration is distancing itself from President Pervez Musharraf after last week's election results.

Negroponte told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee that "Pakistan has been indispensable" in the fight against terrorism and he looked "forward to working with the leaders who emerge" after the formation of a new Government.

When questioned by a lawmaker about the US support to Musharraf, Negroponte acknowledged, "Musharraf is still the President of his country, and we look for to continuing to work with him."

Republican Senator Dick Lugar said the US should clarify to Pakistan's people that US interests "lay not in supporting a particular leader or party, but in democracy, pluralism, stability and the fight against violence."

Negroponte said Pakistan's elections were a "big step" toward civilian democracy and it reflected people's mandate.

According to The News, Democratic Senator Joe Biden also urged the Bush administration to distance itself from "a policy focused on a personality, Musharraf, to one based on an entire country."

Biden proposed that the United States triple non-military aid for schools, roads and clinics and demand accountability in the military aid the US was giving to Pakistan.

ANI

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