Participatory democracy ‘firmly’ in place, Musharraf tells PPP leaders
* Sherpao says PPP not suffering from ‘Zardariphobia’
ISLAMABAD: President Pervez Musharraf said on Friday that genuine participatory democracy was ‘firmly’ in place at all tiers and Pakistan’s democratic institutions were fully functional.
Talking to a Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) delegation, President Musharraf said elected representatives should take Pakistan forward on the path of sustainable development and underlined the importance of continuing policies, as it had already steered the country to take off economically, an official statement said.
“We must work to share macro-economic gains at the grass-root level and focus on projects that provide better opportunities to the masses and reduce poverty. At the same time, we should move forward as a moderate and progressive Islamic nation and our goal should be to translate challenges into opportunities and make use of our development prowess,” the statement quoted the president as saying.
Later, PPP leader and Interior Minister Aftab Sherpao told Daily Times that the meeting went on for more than two hours and they (the PPP) discussed all major issues, particularly the country’s political scenario, with President Musharraf, who expressed satisfaction over the process of political stability.
About the policy of national reconciliation with the opposition, Mr Sherpao said the PPP was not a rigid party. “We support the president, whose policies have earned a respected position for Pakistan on the international level,” he said.
The interior minister said his party did not believe in political stagnancy. “We want an environment of co-existence and political stability,” he said, adding that his party did not fear any move for reconciliation with the opposition.
About the situation developing after Asif Ali Zardari’s release, Mr Sherpao said, “We are not suffering from ‘Zardariphobia’.” However, he said all coalition partners were united in their support to the president. He dispelled the impression that the policy of national reconciliation would politically damage the coalition in the future. “We will all be together in the local government elections next year and in the general elections in 2007,” Mr Sherpao said, hinting at the possibility of all coalition partners jointly contesting the local government and general elections.