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Rice: Musharraf a 'good ally'

Latest update : 2008-08-18

Pakistan's ruling coalition, led by the party of assassinated former PM Benazir Bhutto, has prepared impeachment charges for Musharraf. US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice says he is an ally, but has not promised asylum.

WASHINGTON, Aug 17 (Reuters) - Embattled Pakistani
President Pervez Musharraf has been a "good ally," U.S.
Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said on Sunday, but she
refused to say whether he would receive U.S. asylum if he
stepped down.

"This is an issue that is not on the table," Rice said in
an interview with "Fox News Sunday." A spokesman for Musharraf,
who has ruled since a 1999 coup, has insisted he would not

Pakistan's ruling coalition, led by the party of
assassinated former prime minister Benazir Bhutto, has prepared
impeachment charges against Musharraf for violating the
constitution and misconduct, a coalition official said over the

Musharraf's Nov. 3 imposition of emergency rule was a main
charge on the impeachment list, the official said.

"President Musharraf has been a good ally," said Rice.

"Everyone knows that we disagreed with his decision in
terms of the state of emergency that he declared, but he was --
he kept to his word. He took off the uniform. There's now a
democratic government in Pakistan."

Musharraf imposed emergency rule in November, leading to
the detention of thousands of opposition politicians shortly
before he was sworn in as a civilian leader. The emergency rule
was lifted in December, days before Bhutto's assassination.

The long-running crisis surrounding Musharraf's future has
heightened concern in the United States and other allies about
the stability of the nuclear-armed Muslim state.

Rice, in her television interview, declined to criticize
the Pakistani leader. In general, Western countries appreciate
Musharraf's efforts to contain Islamic militants who have
provided shelter for the Taliban and al Qaeda near Pakistan's
border with Afghanistan.

Defense Secretary Robert Gates, interviewed on ABC's "This
Week," said that while al Qaeda remained in a remote corner of
Pakistan it was anything but comfortable there.

"When al Qaeda was in Afghanistan, they had the partnership
of a government. They had ready access to international
communications, ready access to travel," he said.

Isolated on the Pakistan/Afghani border "it's much more
difficult for them to move around, much more difficult for them
to communicate," Gates said.


Date created : 2008-08-18