`Decision on army chief post to be based on national interest`

Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf has said he would decide on the issue of continuing as the army chief keeping in mind the national interest.

Islamabad, July 07: Pakistan President Pervez
Musharraf has said he would decide on the issue of continuing
as the army chief keeping in mind the national interest.

"I've been in uniform for the last 40 years and the
decision on this issue will be in the national interest," he
was quoted in the media here as telling a meeting of the
ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Q (PML-Q).

He said his decision would be made keeping in mind the
international, regional and national situation.

"The democratic system will continue uninterrupted," he
said and reaffirmed his commitment to free, fair and
transparent elections in 2007.

The present assemblies would complete their
constitutional tenure, Musharraf said.

The General's remarks came days after he said that he may
quit as President if politicians backed by him fail to win the
general elections next year.

He also expressed confidence that the PML-Q headed by its
president Shujaat Hussain would lead the party in next general
elections.

Musharraf's firm support to Hussain was seen as an
indication that he now decided to go ahead with the present
arrangement instead of working out an understanding with
former premier Benazir Bhutto as speculated earlier.

His emissaries in the past held several rounds of talks
with Bhutto to get her party's support.

According to Bhutto's Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP),
Musharraf wanted the support of PPP but did not want her to
return from her self exile to take part in active politics, a
proposal Bhutto continued to reject.

In his address to the parliamentarians belonging to the
ruling coalition from southern Punjab province here yesterday,
Musharraf warned that the general elections were fast
approaching and the PML-Q needed to eradicate internal
differences before they arrive.

"It's time to unite under the leadership of Chaudhry
Shujaat. If there are any differences, talk to Chaudhry
Shujaat directly and avoid highlighting internal differences
in the media. I will also play my role," the president said.

He asked the PML-Q leaders and workers to have confidence
in Hussain's leadership. "If rivals like the PML-N (of
former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif) and the PPP can join
hands, there is no room for differences within the PML-Q."

Musharraf also said he would now give more time to
politics and focus on development projects. "I will give more
time to political issues and resolve differences within the
Pakistan Muslim League-Q, besides personally monitoring
development projects."

Bureau Report

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