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Democracy in place, says Musharraf

December 03, 2004

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BUENOS AIRES, Dec 2: President Pervez Musharraf has said that a sustainable system of democracy is in place in Pakistan and will not be derailed in future.

In his address to the Argentine Council for International Relations and meetings with President of Argentine Upper House of Parliament Daniel Scioli and Vice-President of the Lower House Eduardo Arnold on Wednesday evening, President Musharraf said that he was a strong believer in democracy.

"There is a system of checks and balance on top leaders and, in future, democracy will not be derailed in Pakistan," he said. Speaking at the function of the Council for International Relations, the president said that democracy had become dysfunctional in Pakistan in the past as it did not exist at grass-roots level.

"We have empowered the people of Pakistan through the local government system - we have also empowered women and minorities through reserved seats at all tiers." President Musharraf said there was a complete freedom of expression in the country and the media enjoyed unprecedented freedom with a number of new channels appearing on the horizon.

Pakistan, he asserted, was a nation on the rise whether it was the economic field, politics or democracy, and also treading the path of sustainable socio-economic development.

President Musharraf said Pakistan looked to strengthening political relations and opening a new era of economic collaboration with Argentine. The two countries, he said, had excellent political and diplomatic relations and cooperated at the United Nations and other international forums on major issues.

The president said during his meeting with the Argentinian president a complete consensus on developing south-south relationship had been evolved. He said there was a complete unanimity of views on bringing equity in trade relations, removal of subsidies from exports specially agriculture which hurt the developing countries and developing international relationship based on equality and welfare of the developing countries.

President Musharraf invited the president, the vice-chairman and members of the Argentine parliament to visit Pakistan and interact at the parliamentary and political levels for a better understanding between the two democracies.

In their remarks, the president of the senate, chairmen of the two houses committees on foreign affairs praised President Musharraf for his role in the war against terror and as a strong advocate for peace.

Later, at a special function, President Musharraf was presented the key of Buenos Aires by the city mayor. In his brief remarks on the occasion, Gen Musharraf said it was an honour for him, and the gesture was reflective of common desire of both countries to further strengthen their existing bonds.

BANQUET: President General Pervez Musharraf and his Argentinian counterpart Nestor Kirchner reaffirmed on Wednesday a common resolve to develop close economic and trade relationships.

Speaking at a banquet hosted in the honour of President Musharraf, the two leaders in their speeches said Pakistan and Argentina had unanimity of views and shared the belief that close trade relations would be mutually beneficial.

The banquet was attended, among others, by Begum Sehba Musharraf, Foreign Minister Khurshid Kasuri, Commerce Minister Humayun Akhtar, Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Raza Hayat Hiraj, Minister of State for Investment and Privatization Umar Ahmad Ghuman, members of parliament and senior officials of the delegation attended. -APP