US officials to monitor Pakistan elections; urge moderate voices

Other News Materials 16 February 2008 05:17 (UTC +04:00)

( dpa ) - The United States Friday continued to express its hope that "moderate forces" would bond together Monday in Pakistan for a successful election of a new government.

State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said US embassy observers and some members of the US Congress would be around in Pakistan as election observers at polling places.

In addition, the US has trained 20,000 Pakistani electoral observers.

Echoing hopes expressed by US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, McCormack urged "moderate forces" to bond together "to help govern that country and put it back on the pathway to democratic rule."

He said the US also continued to encourage President Pervez Musharraf and his party to work with supporters of the assassinated former prime minister Benazir Bhutto and other moderate voices "for a better future for Pakistan."

"I don't want to go much further than what (Rice) said, because I don't want to in any way ... give the perception at all that we are trying to influence the composition of the future Pakistani government," McCormack said.

He said the US hoped the election would "play out in a way that is free from violence."

The US has worked with the Pakistani government to make sure the election observers have access to polling places and are "able to do their jobs," McCormack said.

Pakistan's year-long political crisis has seen emergency rule, the sacking of the judiciary, and dozens of suicide bombings by Islamic militants that have killed more than 1,000 people.

But even that, along with Bhutto's assassination and bomb explosions at three campaign rallies in the past week, have been unable to derail the polls.