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‘Musharraf to work smoothly with new govt’

February 20, 2008

LAHORE, Feb 19: President Pervez Musharraf’s spokesman has said the new government will work smoothly no matter which party or parties formed it.

Major Gen (retd) Rashid Qureshi said on Tuesday the president would perform his functions within the limits set by the Constitution and there was no possibility of any friction.

Many people fear that a coalition formed by the PPP and the PML-N would not feel comfortable with Musharraf because of their differences on various issues.

Mr Qureshi said: “I personally heard Asif Ali Zardari when he said that he could work with President Musharraf.”

He said that while it was for the political parties to choose their coalition partners, he could say with a degree of certainty that there would be no confrontation between the president and the government.

The spokesman rejected demands that President Musharraf should quit after the defeat of the PML-Q in the general election. He said the demand had not been made by the PPP, the MQM or the PML-Q. He said the president had already been elected for a five-year term and there was no justification for demanding his resignation.

He criticised the elements who had been alleging that the elections would not be held or, if held, would be rigged to a large extent.

He claimed that Monday’s elections were the fairest and most transparent in the country’s history.

Baqir Sajjad Syed adds from Islamabad: President Musharraf has urged the winning political parties to work with other stakeholders amid growing concerns whether he would be able to stay in power after his opponents got a big win in the general elections.

President Musharraf was quoted by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in a statement as telling a US Senate delegation that he hoped the new government would focus on the future.

The US Senate delegation comprising Senators Joseph Biden, John Kerry and Chuck Hagel, who were here to observe the polls, had called on the president at the Aiwan-e-Sadar.

Political analysts perceive the rout of Musharraf’s allies in the polls as a disapproval of his policies and growing public rage over inflation, food shortages and power cuts.

President Musharraf underlined the importance of a broad-based relationship between Pakistan and the US, based on commonality of interests and better understanding of the realities.