US Congressmen deny attempting to lobby for Musharraf

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Islamabad, May 28 (UNI) Two senior US legislators, currently in Pakistan, have said their visit should not be seen as an attempt to lobby for President Pervez Musharraf.

Local daily The News today quoted Congressman Adam Schiff (Democrat-California), who was accompanied by Congresswoman Allyson Schwartz (Democrat-Pennsylvania) as saying that they were not going to get involved in the ongoing debate on the restoration of the deposed judiciary.

Both Mr Schiff and Ms Schwartz said they wanted to hear from the media about the current issues in the country so that they could have a better understanding from independent sources.

They have met the top leadership of the country before leaving for Afghanistan.

To several queries, both Congressmen were very clear that neither they nor their government intended to lobby for President Musharraf.

''No, we are not here to lobby for President Pervez Musharraf or lobby for him to retain his office. I do not think that neither the US administration nor Congress will lobby for Musharraf,'' Mr Schiff said.

When reminded that in the past the US was more comfortable working with military dictators rather than elected prime ministers, he said there had been no preferences for the US to work with dictators rather than democrats.

''There should be an end to the off and on relationship between the two countries. The US will support the Government of Pakistan and will work with Pervez Musharraf as long as he is the President,'' he added.

''We are reluctant to get into this (judges) dispute as we cannot afford to back any party. Congress is not a lobby,'' Mr Schiff replied.

Instead both the members of Congress stressed time and again that their visit was to ensure that they could assist in any way to ensure institution-building and strengthening legislation in Pakistan so that the Parliament emerged powerful to make judgments.

''We are for constructive assistance for development of Parliament,'' commented Ms Schwartz.

The visitors said there are very high expectations in Pakistan after the change and when you take power you have to deliver on the pledges made.

''Partners should work together to solve differences as Pakistan is depending on them. The government can work together on challenges,'' they stressed.

UNI XC PD RAI1200

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