US urges Pak's moderate groups to form coalition

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Washington, Feb 29: The US has urged all 'moderate and democratic' parties in Pakistan, to work together to form a coalition government. '' Given the rejection of the Islamist parties, I think the general tendency in the country is towards moderation and secular government. I would hope and expect we would be able to work as well, if not better, with the forthcoming government than we have in the past,'' Deputy Secretary of State John Negroponte told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee yesterday.

''I am certainly hopeful,'' he said. ''The country had largely rejected politics based on religion.'' Mr Negroponte, however, said, '' We are going to work with whatever government emerges from the process. We are not in the business of recommending specific alignments or specific coalitions.

I think we would, as a general proposition, urge the moderate forces, political forces, to work together.

''Of course Gen(retd) Pervez Musharraf is still the President of his country and we look forward to continuing to work well with him, as well.'' Mr Negroponte said Pakistan had been indispensable in the war on terror, particularly in the fight against al-Qaeda and Taliban-linked extremists along the country's border with Afghanistan.

Slain opposition leader Benazir Bhutto's Pakistan People's Party (PPP) has emerged as the single largest party in the recent February, 18 elections. Former prime minister Nawaz Sharif's Muslim League came second. Musharraf-backed Muslim League failed to make any significant mark.


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