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After Pakistan vote, U.S. eyes options

Some White House officials want to embrace victors in parliament; others don't want to abandon Musharraf.

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After seven years of an "all Musharraf" Pakistan policy, the United States has an opportunity after recent elections to forge a new relationship with a key country in the war on terror.

Yet some quarters of the Bush administration would rather see President Pervez Musharraf hang on despite the drubbing he took from opposition parties, which could leave Washington on the outs with Pakistan's rising leaders, some analysts say. Even if the US does court the country's new civilian powers, a key challenge would loom: The new powers favor playing down the military fight against Pakistan's Al Qaeda and Taliban forces and sympathizers – a battle that remains the top American priority.

"We do have a real window to work with the new leadership," says Daniel Markey, a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations in Washington.

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