US continues to put pressure on Musharraf to withdraw emergency

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Washington, Nov 15 (UNI) The United States has heightened pressure on Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf to lift the state of emergency, insisting that free and fair elections can not take place in such a situation.

''We do not see how it is possible to have free and fair elections under emergency rule,''White House Spokeswoman Dana Perino told reporters yesterday.

She made out a strong case for scraping emergency rule to restore peoples' right to protest peacefully and participate in the election campaign and a free media to cover the election.

Perino said the US wanted to have a long-term relationship with Pakistan. "In the past we have waffled on that and it has not served us well. We lost contact with an entire generation of Pakistani military leaders," she said.

Asked about the reported collapse of the talks on power sharing between Gen Musharraf and former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, Perino said, the tensions were high in Pakistan and the situation remained very fluid.

The situation in Pakistan also figured at the State Department briefing where its spokesman Sean McCormack said, Deputy Secretary John Negroponte would be in Islamabad probably on Friday or Saturday.

Mr Negroponte is going there as a special envoy to tell Gen Musharraf in person to withdraw his emergency rule in the interest of free and fair elections in the country.

Mr Negroponte, the second-ranking State Department official, is currently on an African tour and from there he will go to Islamabad.


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