Tens of millions of Pakistanis turned out to vote in the country's parliamentary and provincial assembly elections, despite violence by political extremists. U.S. State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said the United States hopes the elections put Pakistanis on the path of greater democratization:
We hope that this election now gets them back on a course whereby the Pakistani people have confidence in a government that they have elected that will serve their interests; that will broaden and deepen political reforms; that will broaden and deepen economic reforms, because, ultimately, that is the bulwark against the encroachment of violent extremists into Pakistani society.
Mr. McCormack said the U.S. is ready to work with whatever government emerges as a result of this election:<!-- IMAGE -->
What we urge is that those moderate forces within Pakistani politics who now have a seat at the table, so to speak, in winning seats in the parliament should band together, should work together, for a few goals that are in the interest of Pakistan, broaden and deepen Pakistan's economic and political reforms, remain committed to fighting violent extremists and terrorists in the region and on Pakistani soil. This is in the long-term interest of Pakistan and the Pakistani people.
Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said, "Our strong view is that we have to have a long-term, consistent, predictable relationship with Pakistan, not with any one person, but with the institutions of Pakistan."<!-- IMAGE -->
The elections had originally been scheduled for January 8th, but were postponed after the December 27th assassination of former prime minister Benazir Bhutto, the leader of the Pakistan Peoples Party. Hundreds have been killed or wounded in terrorist attacks on political candidates and their supporters in Pakistan.
State Department spokesman McCormack said the United States remains committed to the Pakistani people in helping them realize a different, more democratic, more prosperous future.