President Pervez Musharraf has warned of a "Lebanon-like situation" in Pakistan if, under the opposition parties' agenda, the army was sought to be downsized and pushed out of the country's governance.
Even as he did not directly mention any of the neighbours or of the peace process with India, he emphasised that "peace comes through force".
This could not happen if the army was downsized and pushed out of the country's governance, as the opposition was clamouring.
"A strong army guarantees a strong country; therefore, the armed forces would be strengthened," Musharraf said.
Musharraf reiterated his theme about the role of the army in the force's heartland of Punjab, saying: "I not only regret but also get angry when the opposition talks about chaos and disorder," The Nation reported.
Musharraf said people talked against the military without realising that Pakistan could face a Lebanon-like situation if the military became weak.
He said a strong army guaranteed Pakistan's stability because peace was achieved through strength. He said the military should grow strong and that it would be strengthened further.
Promising yet again that he would hold parliamentary elections next year, Musharraf Monday sought support for himself and his supporters of the Pakistan Muslim League (Qaid-e-Azam).
"Elections will be held in 2007 at every cost within the stipulated time. If people want democratic norms to flourish in the country and Pakistan to grow strong then they should vote for my supporters so that the fast-paced development process could be sustained," he said at a public gathering.
In his blow-hot-blow-cold speech at Chakwal in Punjab, targeting the opposition parties, Musharraf said they were plotting to impeach him and move a no-confidence motion in the National Assembly against the government of Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz.
The opposition was also wanting the provincial legislatures dissolved early, when he wanted them to complete their term till next year, he said, while not referring to the move to get himself re-elected to the presidency using these legislatures as the electoral college.
The opposition parties are trying to thwart this move.
A defiant Punjab Chief Minister Pervaiz Elahi said President Musharraf would be elected "many times in uniform" because "uniformed Musharraf is the symbol of strengthening democracy in the country," The News said.
--Indo-Asian News Service