Casey Statement on Pakistan Elections

WASHINGTON, DC-Following yesterday’s parliamentary elections in Pakistan, U.S. Senator Bob Casey (D-PA) released the following statement:

“While we need to wait for final returns and the judgment of independent monitoring groups, the parliamentary elections held in Pakistan yesterday appear to have met the basic standards required for a free and fair vote. The Pakistani people offered a stinging rebuke to General Musharraf, delivering a significant margin of victory to the leading civilian opposition parties.

“Yesterday’s electoral returns reaffirm that the Bush Administration’s approach to Pakistan in recent years was both bankrupt and counterproductive. We placed all our bets with one man, hoping that General Musharraf would prove a good ally in hunting down terrorists. Unfortunately, the General proved too often willing to turn a blind eye to Al Qaeda and Taliban extremists operating with impunity in the border regions neighboring Afghanistan. In turn, the United States was seen as propping up an ineffective dictator, rallying further support for extremist forces in Pakistan.

“I hope that President Bush will use these elections to transition U.S. support away from General Musharraf and towards the Pakistani people. Pakistan will continue to be an indispensable partner in the fight against terrorism and extremism and so we need a Pakistani government that enjoys the support and confidence of its people.”

Following the assassination of Benazir Bhutto, Senator Casey joined his Senate colleagues in sending a bipartisan letter to President Bush urging the President to act quickly to promote steps toward democracy, reconciliation and stability in Pakistan. Senator Casey also was an original co-sponsor of a resolution by Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Biden introduced in early February calling for Pakistan to return to democracy.

Senator Casey has also voiced his strong concerns over the effectiveness and continued reliability of existing safeguards on Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal against theft or seizure by terrorist groups. In response to a question Senator Casey posed at a Foreign Relations hearing in December, Assistant Secretary of State Richard Boucher assured him that the U.S. government is “fairly confident” in the integrity of Pakistan’s protective measures.



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