CIVIL SOCIETY PAKISTAN

February 20, 2008

Reinstatement of judges impossible, says Musharraf – THIS MAN IS MAD

Filed under: POST-ELECTIONS 2008 — civilsocietypakistan @ 11:49 pm
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Calls for harmonious coalition; polls strengthened moderate forces
ISLAMABAD: President Pervez Musharraf rejected on Wednesday calls to resign as the opposition parties mulled a coalition government. Despite the intensifying pressure on Musharraf, he told an American newspaper that he had no plans to quit.Asked by the Wall Street Journal whether he would resign or retire, Musharraf said: “No, not yet. We have to move forward in a way that we bring about a stable democratic government to Pakistan.”Musharraf was also quoted in the interview published on the newspaper’s website as saying he would like to function “with any party and any coalition because that is in the interest of Pakistan”.

He agreed the election outcome was a reflection of Pakistanis’ dissatisfaction with his government, citing economic problems and his attempt to rein in judges as well as sympathy for the opposition after the assassination of their charismatic leader, Benazir Bhutto.

“All these things had a negative impact,” Musharraf said. He said it was premature to comment on who might be the country’s next prime minister, as that was a matter for the political parties to decide.

Asked whether he could work with Nawaz Sharif, the prime minister he overthrew in 1999, Musharraf said: “The government is run by the prime minister. The president has no mandate to share governing power with the prime minister.”

He added: “The clash would be if the prime minister and president would be trying to get rid of each other. I only hope we would avoid these clashes.” Musharraf also made it known that there was no possible way in which the deposed chief justice of Pakistan and other sacked judges could be brought back.

“Legally there’s no way this can be done. I can’t even imagine how this is done,” he said. The president said he has not met either Nawaz Sharif or Asif Ali Zardari since the elections. “I’m not heading a political party. Let political parties meet with each other and form a coalition,” Musharraf said.

“If anyone thinks I can facilitate in a positive way for Pakistan, I would like to do it,” Musharraf said. At a time when questions are being raised in Washington on the implications of the election result on American foreign policy, especially as it related to the war on terror, Musharraf argued that relationships between the two countries were not tied to individuals and it was in the interest of Pakistan to fight terrorism and extremism.

“I don’t think relationships between nations are tied to individuals. There are mutual, national interests that lead to personal relationships. It’s not the other way around. It’s the mutual interests in the region, especially the fight against terrorism that has led to our strategic relationship.

“Now it is broad-based, and long-term. So it is an issue-related relationship, which has led to a personal relationship with President (George W) Bush, and I cherish the relationship,” he said.

“The fight against terrorism has a strategic context and we are looking for social and economic assistance especially for the tribal areas. It is the economic bonds that cement relations. We are looking for an increase in market access into the US, this is at the core of poverty – job creation – which is at the core of our anti-terrorism drive,” he said.

When asked how military ties with the US might change in the context of him not being in uniform and in having a new prime minister, the president said: “It’s in Pakistan’s interest to fight terrorism and extremism. So, whatever government there is I’m pretty sure they will continue to fight terrorism and extremism. Why would any government change its priorities? I think the policy will remain consistent.”

Meanwhile, the president called for a “harmonious coalition” after the general elections, a foreign ministry statement said. “The president emphasised the need for harmonious coalition in the interest of peaceful governance, development and progress of Pakistan,” the statement said after Musharraf met a visiting US congressman.

“The elections have strengthened the moderate forces in the country,” it quoted Musharraf as saying. “The president stated that the Pakistani nation had faced many challenges and has always come out well,” the statement further said. “The future looked better with successes in the fight against terrorism.

THE NEWS- FEBRUARY 21, 2008

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