President Musharraf ready to launch reconciliation policy
ISLAMABAD, October 4 (RIA Novosti) - Pakistan's President General Pervez Musharraf is ready to resign as Armed Forces chief next month and launch a national reconciliation policy if re-elected president, Pakistani media said on Thursday.
"We are striving towards a policy of all-round reconciliation for the good of our people and a smooth shift from military to civil authority," he said.
Musharraf also said he hoped to win the October 6 presidential elections and was ready to become a civilian president before the end of his current term on November 15. He called on the opposition forces to cooperate in political reconciliation, saying that the Pakistan People's Party (PPP), headed by ex-Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, could play a key role in struggle against extremism and terrorism, which he highlighted as the main threats to the country.
Confronted by recent widespread rioting by hard-line Islamists, and facing dwindling support both at home and in the U.S. Congress, Musharraf has reportedly been in talks with Bhutto about a possible power sharing arrangement after the general election.
Bhutto herself is skeptical, saying Musharraf has failed to uphold some of her demands, including allowing her to run for a third term as prime minister. The ex-prime minister also wants the president to give up the power to dissolve parliament and to carry out reforms to ensure free and fair parliamentary elections due by January.
In further comments, Musharraf did not rule out reconciliation with Nawaz Sharif, another ex-prime minister and once his main rival, but noted that this would only be possible after the parliamentary elections. Sharif returned to Pakistan on September 10, but was deported to Saudi Arabia shortly after his arrival.
Pakistan's Supreme Court resumed hearings on Thursday on a final bid to block President Pervez Musharraf's almost certain re-election. In London, Benazir Bhutto prepared to declare if her party would boycott the upcoming vote - a move which her supporters say would strip the election of credibility.
Under the Pakistani constitution, the Electoral College is made up of members of the National Assembly, Senate and provincial assemblies. To win re-election, Musharraf needs a majority vote, which is assured by his Pakistan Muslim League party.
General Pervez Musharraf seized power in a bloodless military coup in 1999. After the 2002 parliamentary election, Musharraf retained his presidential and military titles, as well as the right to dissolve parliament and dismiss the government.
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