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US for long-term ties with Pakistan: Rice
Sridhar Krishnaswami in Washington | January 23, 2008 10:21 IST
The situation in Pakistan is "obviously complicated", US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has said, but underscored that Washington wants a long-term relationship with "the institutions" of the country and is pushing for a "moderate centre" there.
The United States was "working very hard with the Pakistanis" to ensure that the upcoming general elections will be an opportunity for the country "to get back on the democratic path," she said.
"The situation in Pakistan's obviously complicated. But our strong view is that we have to have a long-term consistent, predictable relationship with Pakistan, not with any one person, but with the institutions of Pakistan," Rice said.
"And (President Pervez) Musharraf has been a good ally in the war on terror. But our policies have been about strengthening a moderate centre in Pakistan. It's about helping in efforts to promote better education for Pakistanis," the secretary of state said.
The US is trying to help development in the most difficult region -- the Federally Administered Tribal Areas and has been involved in assisting the Pakistanis train for the war on terrorism, Rice noted.
"All moderate forces in Pakistan obviously have very determined enemies. And I don't see how all -- any of those interests or any of those tasks change," she added.
"We are all working very hard with the Pakistanis to try and ensure that the elections will be an opportunity for Pakistan to get back on the democratic path and an opportunity for Pakistanis to come together and that's very much on everybody's mind. But I think the assistance is aimed at very important goals and that isn't going to change," Rice said on her way to Germany [Images].
The upcoming polls need to have "the confidence of Pakistanis," she emphasised.
"No one has ever said that democracy is something that's borne in a minute. It does take time. But you have to get started and you have to start putting in place the institutions that will secure democratic values and that will allow people to exercise their rights to freedom," she added.
Admitting that sometimes there will be "setbacks", Rice said, "Every leader has an obligation to push that goal as far forward as possible and that's what we're saying to all of the countries with which we have a dialogue about democracy."