US sees role of Benazir in future Pak politics

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Washington, Oct 3: US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has said that former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto does hold a position in the evolving situation in Pakistan, but the people would have to determine whether she is the right figure for the restoration of democracy.

Commenting on Bhutto"s place in future set up in Pakistan, Rice said: "I don't see why not. There will be, we believe, and there should be a contested parliamentary election and that people ought to be able to participate."

"That's going to have to be a decision that Pakistani institutions and Pakistanis make about whether or not she's a viable political force. That's not something the US can decide," Rice told a US based newspaper.

She said that the parliamentary elections, in particular, are going to be a real test of the willingness of the Pakistan Government to allow for free and fair elections and we're pressing that case very hard.

Rice hailed the role of President Pervez Musharraf in the fight against terrorism and for bringing the country back essentially from the brink.

"I mean, it was really on the brink of extremism and Musharraf is really a good ally, and made clear that he doesn't think a modern Pakistan can exist with an extremist core."

"But moderate forces do need to unite in Pakistan in order to be able to continue to resist extremism and to carry on with the considerable economic progress that the reforms have brought about," The News quoted Rice, as saying.


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