Pakistan army not distancing itself from President Musharraf

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Islamabad, Mar 7 (UNI) Pakistan's Army Chief Ashfaq Parvez Kiyani has reiterated his institution's complete support for the elected government and the democratic process.

However, he called for avoiding schism between various pillars of the state and dispelled a perception that the army was distancing itself from President Gen(retd)Pervez Musharraf.

He said the army would stay out of the political process and expressed the hope that it would not like to be dragged into any unnecessary controversy.

He said the army stood behind the democratic process and was committed to playing its constitutional role in support of the elected government.

This was for the first time since assuming army's command that Gen. Kiyani made such a categoric statement in support of democracy.

He told conference of top army commanders in Rawalpindi yesterday that the army was not distancing itself from the president'.

A military statement issued last evening quoted Gen. Kiyani as stressing importance of the constitutional relationship between the army and the National Command Structure.

Highlighting the need for understanding, he pointed out that any kind of schism, at any level, under the circumstances would not be in the larger interest of the nation.

The Chief of Army Staff once again reaffirmed the army's commitment to solidarity and integrity of Pakistan which he said was possible only with the full support of the people of Pakistan.

The commanders dwelt at length on various issues relating to operational preparedness, training and administrative matters of the army.

UNI XC SZ RAI1117

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