Ex-chief justice wanted to remove me illegally: Musharraf

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Islamabad, Dec 12 (UNI) Alleging that Pakistan former Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry tried to remove him ''illegally'', President Pervez Musharraf said the country would have been in trouble if Mr Chaudhry was allowed to have his own way.

''What would have happened if we had allowed this chief justice to have his own way. We would have landed the country into chaos,'' The News quoted the President as saying yesterday.

Speaking about the upcoming general elections, scheduled for January 8, 2008, President Musharraf said the elections would strengthen democracy. ''Participation of a large number of parties in the election process will help achieve the objectives of the elections.'' He said he was ready to work with any party which would come into power after general elections. ''I would like to try to work with anyone who comes to power after the elections. I interact with people quite well. I am not such a trouble creator,'' he added.

The caretaker provincial government had been directed to make necessary arrangements for free and fair elections and all political parties had been given a level playing field to contest the general elections.

Speaking about his association with the Army, Musharraf said, ''My relationship with the Army is not direct of course. There is an Army chief. However, 46 years of association does not get washed off.'' The Army would remember him and he would remember the Army for quite some time to come. The role of the Army was to defend the nation from internal and external threats, he said.

About relations with the US, the President stated categorically that he was not fighting their war rather it was the war for Pakistan, which he was waging.

He said he did not want the al-Qaeda elements on the Pakistani soil nor would he like the militant Taliban to go across the border into Afghanistan and fight there. ''We don't want the militant Taliban to get safe haven in our area,'' he added.

The decision to send troops into Swat was taken after consulting politicians. It was essential otherwise the northern areas would have been cut off from the rest of Pakistan.

The government was committed to ensure continuity of economic development, holding of transparent and free elections and elimination of extremism, he said.

UNI

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