A senior US official says Pakistan's general elections next month will not be "perfect", but that the vote is an important step toward democracy.
Assistant Secretary of State Richard Boucher spoke Thursday in testimony before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Capitol Hill. Boucher said if all sides keep their pledges, Pakistan can have elections that will really reflect the choices made by the people.
Some Senate Democrats challenged Washington's support for Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf and questioned the 10-billion-dollars in US assistance to Pakistan since 2001. Boucher noted that the Pakistani leader has shed his military uniform and pledged to lift emergency rule on December 16th. He also defended the aid, saying Pakistan is an important ally in the war on terrorism and its success is essential to US security.