US wary of upsetting Zardari's applecart just yet

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Washington, Mar 13 (ANI): The US in still not willing to support a demand for the restoration of sacked judges, despite a change of government in Washington and, seems eager not to criticise the Zardari Government for its crackdown on opposition activists. It also wants to appear neutral in the Zardari-Sharif imbroglio.

On Thursday, US special envoy Richard Holbrooke conveyed Washington's concerns to Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani. Holbrooke offered his views and advice to ease the mounting political tension in Pakistan.

General David Petraeus, the US military commander for the region, and Ambassador Holbrooke also briefed lawmakers on Pakistan's political crisis on Thursday, the Dawn reported.

It appears that the Obama Administration and Congress want to avoid making public comments on Pakistan. So far, only benign comments have been made that do little to reveal the US position on Pakistan's political turmoil.

The United States must do what it can to 'sustain democracy' in Pakistan, said Senator John Kerry, the Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

"Pakistan's leaders are working very, very hard to try to reach an agreement that will bring elements of the government together in unity and allow them to go forward," he added.

Acting State Department spokesman Robert Wood conceded that the situation in Pakistan was difficult, but avoided comments that could be interpreted as support or opposition to the government in Islamabad.

The US supports freedom of speech, of expression, and of assembly in Pakistan, he said.

When asked why the US is not condemning the crackdown on opposition leaders by the Zardari government and the restriction it has imposed on the assembly and the Long March, he said: "I've said to you about what our views are with regard to freedom of expression and assembly. That's pretty clear." (ANI)

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