KARACHI, July 4: An emboldened President Pervez Musharraf on Friday called for dealing with “separatists with force”, tackling terrorism and extremism via a three-pronged strategy and said that he was not going anywhere because he, too, had a role along with political parties to steer the country out of crisis.

At a dinner hosted by the business community that provided him a platform to attack the strife-ridden ruling coalition, the president’s speech left enough room for accommodation nevertheless.

The Muttahida Qaumi Movement’s presence and a hard-hitting speech by Karachi Nazim Syed Mustafa Kamal was a clear message to the anti-Musharraf camp in the current dispensation.

Representatives of the business community and industrialists also called upon President Musharraf to stand firm against his opponents.

Criticising reports about his alleged arrest or attempt to flee the country, President Musharraf declared that he had no intention of going abroad.

“I am not afraid. I have deliberately kept this (low-key) posture under a well thought-out plan because I have been trained to respond both in offensive and defensive manner, especially defending the national interest,” he said in a firm tone.

President Musharraf was of the view that the present uncertainty and instability that caused flight of capital and a host of other problems had been created because political leadership had let the people down in tackling real issues.

He said political stability could still be achieved through politics of reconciliation and by forgetting the past and looking forward. “I’ll be very happy if the present coalition completes its five-year tenure and resolves main issues by moving forward and frees itself of the politics of vendetta and rises above blame game.”

Acknowledging that the country was passing through a critical phase, he said terrorism, extremism and economic instability were affecting trade and industry, besides fomenting political turmoil.

Referring to the situation in Fata and adjoining areas, President Musharraf said a three-pronged strategy involving use of force, political dialogue and economic reconstruction, was the only way out. He said that the policy — which his government had initiated – was continuing.

Stressing the need to curb Talibanisation and obscurantist tendencies, he said otherwise the country would have to face “many Lal Masjids”. He noted that vote in the NWFP had rejected such elements and supported moderates. He emphasised that a dialogue from a position of strength would succeed.

Expressing concern at the rising incidence of terrorism and separatist tendencies in Balochistan, he said that a policy of appeasement towards such elements would not work. “It must be dealt with force,” he said while referring to the emergence of banners calling for an independent Balochistan.He said that issues could no longer be hedged and they “have to be addressed through strong action”.

Referring to the economic crisis and political uncertainty, the president urged the business community to “bail the country out of the crisis”.



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