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Democracy, Musharraf style

Suman Guha Mozumder at the United Nations | September 25, 2003 11:10 IST
Last Updated: September 25, 2003 11:30 IST

President Pervez Musharraf gave a brief lecture to journalists on democracy in Pakistan on Wednesday after he was asked for his view on criticism that the US is 'dangling with the devil' in its fight against terror by aligning with Islamabad.

"I do not want to get into details, but democracy is fully functional in Pakistan," Musharraf said. "Every country has its own environment and democracy gets tailored accordingly."

He, however, did not elaborate how democracy is being tailored in Pakistan.

Musharraf refused to directly answer a question that Pakistan is not seen to be a perfect democracy given the way he himself came to power. "You come and see it (the democracy in Pakistan)," he said.

He said that Pakistan has a senate and provincial assemblies like in other democracies. "What is more, we have introduced a third tier of democracy -- local government that was not there before in our country," he said. "In fact, we have empowered the people of Pakistan by taking democracy to the grassroots level and that is real democracy."

Musharraf said his government has introduced a system of checks and balances to create a 'sustainable democracy', something that has never functioned before in Pakistan.

In response to question whether democracy is good for Pakistan in view of the election of an Islamic fundamentalist government in the North West Frontier Province. Musharraf said that despite being a soldier he felt that democracy was needed.

He said although some parties passed religious laws, people were 'probably' not paying any attention to them he also said that provincial governments were subject to national laws.

Musharraf had a piece of advice for journalists who might have had any doubt about democracy in Pakistan as well.

"Do not see and judge democracy through the eyes of your own country (or) based on the values of your own country. After all, every country has its own environment," he said.

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