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December 25, 2001
2205 IST

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Musharraf won't allow 'bigots to derail' his country

K J M Varma in Islamabad

Asserting that Pakistan is a responsible state of 140 million people with nuclear capabilities, President Pervez Musharraf on Tuesday said he would not allow any 'bigoted extremist to derail' his country.

In a significant speech coming days after countries like the US and Britain had asked him to rein in fundamentalist and terrorist outfits in the wake of a similar Indian demand, Musharraf said: "No bigoted extremist will be allowed to derail us."

He was speaking at a function to mark the 125th birth anniversary of Muhammad Ali Jinnah. The speech was televised on the national television.

Without directly referring to the tensions between India and Pakistan over the involvement of Pakistan-based militant groups in the recent terrorist attack on the Indian Parliament, he said: "We confront an external and internal challenge. But let me assure my countrymen that your armed forces are fully prepared and capable of defeating all challenges."

During his speech, he made a direct reference to India only once while repeating Jinnah's interview to a foreign journalist in which the founder leader of Pakistan had said the two countries could come to a peaceful settlement of their vital differences and disputes provided India shed its superiority complex.

PTI

Complete Coverage: The Attack on Parliament

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