News

USIS Washington File

18 October 1999

Text: U.S. Welcomes Musharraf's Pledge to Return to Democracy in Pakistan

(Rubin: U.S. actions will be guided by steps by new authorities) (600)

The United States welcomes the pledge by Pakistan's Chief of Army
Staff General Musharraf in an address to his nation October 17 "to
work for a return to democracy and his promise that the armed forces
would not stay in charge any longer than necessary," State Department
Spokesman James Rubin said October 17.

"At the same time, we are disappointed that he did not offer a clear
timetable for the early restoration of constitutional, civilian and
democratic government. We call upon him to do so now."

Rubin said "The United States believes that it is critically important
for Pakistan to begin to resolve its differences with India, including
the conflict over Kashmir. In this regard, we welcome General
Musharraf's commitment to dialogue with India."

"The United States will watch closely as the General acts to fulfill
his pledge to return his country to democracy and to address the other
serious problems he identified ...," Rubin said. "Our own actions
toward Pakistan in the days ahead will be guided by the steps taken by
the new authorities."

Following is the text of Rubin's statement:

(begin text)

U.S. Department of State
Office of the Spokesman

Press Statement by James P. Rubin,

Spokesman October 17, 1999

Pakistan: General Musharraf's Speech

In an address to his nation today, Pakistan's Chief of Army Staff
General Musharraf defended the military's removal of the government of
Prime Minister Sharif and spelled out his aims and objectives in the
days ahead. Because we do not believe military takeovers are the
appropriate method for resolving the problems that face democracies,
we welcome his pledge to work for a return to democracy and his
promise that the armed forces would not stay in charge any longer than
necessary. At the same time, we are disappointed that he did not offer
a clear timetable for the early restoration of constitutional,
civilian and democratic government. We call upon him to do so now.

General Musharraf also addressed Pakistan's international priorities.
The United States believes that it is critically important for
Pakistan to begin to resolve its differences with India, including the
conflict over Kashmir. In this regard, we welcome General Musharraf's
commitment to dialogue with India. We also welcome measures such as
the unilateral draw down of military forces along the international
border with India that General Musharraf announced. We hope that this
move could be expanded to include forces along the Line of Control in
Kashmir and urge Pakistan to undertake other confidence building
measures that could lead to a lessening of tensions with India. We
note General Musharraf's statements with respect to global
non-proliferation objectives and nuclear and missile restraint. He
also stated his belief that the Afghan conflict can be settled only
through establishment of a representative government in Kabul, a view
we share.

As General Musharraf told his nation, actions speak louder than words.
The United States will watch closely as the General acts to fulfill
his pledge to return his country to democracy and to address the other
serious problems he identified, including the economy and corruption.
We call on General Musharraf to respect civil liberties, freedom of
the press and human rights while this process proceeds. Our own
actions toward Pakistan in the days ahead will be guided by the steps
taken by the new authorities.

(end text)

(Distributed by the Office of International Information Programs, U.S.
Department of State.)