Pre-poll rigging charges baseless: Musharraf

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Islamabad, Dec 26: Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf today said pre-poll rigging charges are baseless and he is not afraid of threats that if the PPP and PML-N do not succeed, the results of the elections will not be accepted. Addressing a ceremony at the mausoleum of Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah in connection with the birth anniversary of the father of the nation of Pakistan, Gen (retd) Musharraf said Quaid-e-Azam believed in democracy.

''We introduced unadulterated democracy in the country and granted rights to women and minorities. We gave freedom to the press. We are now passing through the last and the third phase of democracy. I am fully sure that the democratic order would be restored as per the vision of Quaid-e-Azam,'' The News quoted him as saying.

''We had put the democratic process, which was derailed, back on track. We have empowered the people to decide about their destiny,'' he added. He declared that elections would be held in a fair and transparent manner in the presence of foreign observers and hoped that all the political parties would accept these results.

The President said Quaid-e-Azam turned the Aligarh movement into the Pakistan movement and showed them the way to go ahead. ''It is our obligation to protect the vision and the trust of Quaid-e-Azam,'' he stressed. ''Unless headway is made in the fields of economy, defence and education, no foundation for a stable state can be laid,'' he added.

General (retd) Musharraf pointed out that he had extricated the country from external threats and no government had formulated such a robust strategy earlier. ''As far as internal threats are concerned, I regret to say that a new series of suicide attacks have begun,'' he said, adding ''We have adopted a mechanism on this count and we will succeed.'' The president reminded the audience that the national kitty was empty in 1999 and now it was full. ''The Karachi Stock Exchange index, which earlier stood at 1,000, has now soared to 15,000,'' he said.

''We framed a better strategy to improve defence position,'' he observed. ''No one has a magic wand to eliminate poverty but we are following a strategy and we hope the poverty level will drop considerably,'' said the Pakistan president, adding, ''I tried my best to take the country forward in line with the vision of Quaid-e-Azam.'' ''Today, I again pledge with the nation that all the energies would be employed to promote the interest of Pakistan on the basis of Pakistan first to take the country forward,'' he assured.

Gen (retd) Musharraf said sincere efforts had been made over the last eight years to take this country forward on the path of progress and prosperity according to the vision of Quaid-i-Azam. ''I make this pledge in front of the Quaid's Mazar that we will continue to make headways with the vision of the Quaid in the coming years as well,'' he said.

UNI

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