Washington, Feb 22: Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf has said that his country's successful shift from a military-backed government towards an emerging democracy would require the continued support of the United States.
In an article for the Washington Post, Musharraf said: "I would ask Americans to remember that building democracy is difficult in the best of conditions; doing so in a complex country such as Pakistan -- with its uneasy political history, with its centuries-old regional and feudal cleavages, and with violent extremists dedicated to the defeat of democracy -- is even more challenging."
"As history has shown, a peaceful transition to democracy requires the leadership of government and the willingness of the population to embrace democratic ideals. The people of Pakistan on Monday demonstrated that willingness; now it is time for government leaders to work together and do our part," he added. After months of turmoil, including the death of an important national figure, Benazir Bhutto, and the civil unrest that followed, Pakistan has successfully carried out a critical election -- balloting that was a milestone in our nation's 60-year history, he said.
Stating that Pakistan's transition to democracy is essential for achieving reconciliation among its people, Musharraf claimed that the government had worked tirelessly to ensure that Monday's vote would be free, fair, transparent and peaceful.
"A broad range of new procedures were put in place -- such as the public counting of ballots at each polling station -- to make certain that this would be the fairest election ever held in Pakistan. The historical significance of this election makes this the right moment for an honest discussion of the challenges and opportunities confronting both Pakistan and the United States, whose interest in a stable, democratic government in Islamabad is matched by that of the Pakistani people," Musharraf said.
"Our nation faces three main tasks: defeating terrorism and extremism; building a stable and effective democratic government; and creating a solid foundation for sustained economic growth, Musharraf says, adding that the vast majority of Pakistanis share these objectives, and " I am certain we can and will accomplish them".
On the issue of terrorism, he said Pakistan would face and fight this menace with full dedication.
"A successful counter-insurgency requires a multi-pronged approach -- military, political and economic. Our political strategy emphasizes separating terrorists from those citizens living in the regions bordering Afghanistan. Our economic strategy is bringing education, economic opportunity and the benefits of development to those same areas. As history has clearly taught us, when people see improvement in their daily lives and the lives of their children, they turn away from violence and toward peace and reconciliation," he concluded.