UK for “free and fair” elections call to Pakistan


London : Britain Monday urged Pakistan to press ahead with “free and fair” elections in the wake of the assassination of former Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto.

Support TwoCircles

Britains Foreign Secretary David Miliband told the House of Commons the delay in holding elections as a result of the assassination last month was “regrettable”.

But the period between now and February 18 must be used to build confidence in the democratic process.

Miliband stressed the need for “credible and transparent” elections and called on Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf to release remaining political detainees and lift remaining restrictions on the media.

He called on Pakistan to publish the location of polling stations, post the results from each station immediately after the election count and ensure that the media’s ability to report was “untrammelled”.

As the Foreign Secretary reported to MPs on developments in Pakistan and Kenya over the Christmas recess, Britains main opposition Conservative Shadow Foreign Secretary William Hague said “In both cases a flawed democratic process has given rise to tragedy”.

“In both cases democratically elected leaders and democratically enshrined institutions are the best hope for overcoming extremism, instability and corruption”, he added.

Miliband hailed both Pakistan and Kenya as “key partners” in the fight against al Qaida.

He said the circumstances surrounding Bhuttos death must be established and a five-member UK police team had begun work on doing this with Pakistani colleagues.

The deadly attack showed that terrorism was just as much a threat to Pakistan as to the West.

A team of cross-government UK experts will travel to Pakistan next week as a precursor to deepening the counter-terrorism relationship between the two countries, the Foreign Secretary concluded.