Gulf News

Reject ‘propaganda over dual posts’

MUSHARRAF PROMISES FREE AND FAIR POLLS

- BY SHAHID HUSSAIN Correspond­ent

Asserting that he had establishe­d “true” democracy in Pakistan, President Pervez Musharraf said yesterday that those making a hue and cry about his uniform wanted to dismantle the democratic edifice.

Addressing a public meeting at Sialkot in the Punjab province, Musharraf said his political opponents “are after dissolutio­n of the present assemblies” and vowed that he would not allow them do so.

The parliament and provincial assemblies elected in October 2002 would complete their tenure in November this year, he said, adding that for the first time in the country’s history the assemblies would run their full term.

Progress

He asked the nation to reject the propaganda over his holding of the dual posts of army chief and president and help consolidat­e the massive economic developmen­t that had reduced poverty, generated more job opportunit­ies and benefited people in rural and urban areas.

“Pakistan has never witnessed such progress in the past and that is what is relevant and important for the people,” he said.

He reiterated that the next general election due this year would be fair, free and transparen­t.

Referring to the crisis situation created in national capital, Islamabad, by hardline clerics and students of Lal Masjid (Red Mosque) and Jamia Hafsa seminary for women, the president urged people to discourage religious extremism.

“If extremism is not con- trolled it would, like termite, damage the country,” he warned, asking parents to prevent their children from falling into the trap of extremists.

He sought help from scholars and the nation to bring the “misguided” people at the Lal Masjid and its seminary onto the right path.

Peaceful means

The president said the government was not afraid of taking action but was exercising restraint and wanted a peaceful end to the activities launched from Lal Masjid and the seminary, where last Friday the clerics announced enforcemen­t of Sharia and set up an Islamic Qazi Court.

He said the government does not want any harm to come to female seminary inmates who “are our own sisters and mothers and have been misled”.

The president asked whether it was permitted by Islam for women to wield batons and threaten suicide attacks, a reference to images of veiled students armed with sticks guarding the seminary.

About the issue of missing people, Musharraf once again defended the government, saying in 90 per cent of the cases people left their homes on their own to join some jihadi group without asking their guardians or parents.

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