February is the new January

The White House backpedals on elections in Pakistan.


Tim Grieve
November 8, 2007 8:26PM (UTC)

At the White House Monday, press secretary Dana Perino said that the Bush administration was pushing Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf to "declare that elections that were scheduled for January are actually going to take place in January, on time." "I think that the most important thing is for them to get back to their stated goal of having a path to democracy, establishing that free and fair elections would take place in January," she explained.

At the State Department Tuesday, spokesman Sean McCormack said that the Bush administration had "conveyed to [Musharraf] that we expect him to abide by" his commitment "to hold elections as scheduled in January." McCormack said that the U.S. ambassador to Pakistan had emphasized to Pakistani officials "that the elections need to take place, need to take place as scheduled in January." He added that he hadn't yet seen "a commitment to holding elections in January, on January 15th," and "that's what we're looking for."

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At Mount Vernon Wednesday, the president said that he had just spoken to Musharraf and delivered a message that was "very, very plain, very easy to understand": "The United States wants you to have the elections as scheduled."

Musharraf reportedly told his national security council today that he plans to get his recent reelection validated by the Supreme Court justices he has just appointed and then hold parliamentary elections on some as-yet unspecified date before the middle of February.

The reaction from the White House? "We think it is a good thing that President Musharraf has clarified the election date for the Pakistani people,'' Perino said this morning.

Oh, and that "very, very plain, very easy to understand" message the president delivered to Musharraf Wednesday? Here's how Musharraf's Foreign Ministry is describing it: "President Bush praised President Pervez Musharraf's leadership and Pakistan's critical role in fighting terrorism and extremism, which posed a grave challenge not only to Pakistan but the world."


Tim Grieve

Tim Grieve is a senior writer and the author of Salon's War Room blog.

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