U.S. Deputy Secretary of State John Negroponte will travel to Pakistan to urge President Pervez Musharraf to lift the state of emergency and hold free and fair elections, State Department deputy spokesman Tom Casey said Tuesday.
Negroponte is expected to travel to Pakistan later this week, Casey said.
While welcoming the news that Musharraf would hold elections next January rather than delay them, Bush administration officials questioned whether elections could be legitimate if the country remains effectively under martial law, with opposition parties in lockdown and unable to campaign or assemble freely, the New York Times said in a report Tuesday.
U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said Sunday that Musharraf's pledge to hold elections and quit as the army chief was a "positive element."
"Obviously, we are also encouraging that the state of emergency has got to be lifted, and lifted as soon as possible," Rice said.
Musharraf said Sunday in Islamabad that general elections, including the national assembly and the provincial assemblies, would be held simultaneously before Jan. 9.
However, Musharraf refused to give a date as when to lift the state of emergency imposed on Nov. 3.