Democracy is Pakistan's future: US President
However, Bush stopped short of criticising the country's military leader who has reneged on a promise to give up his position as army chief.india Updated: Mar 04, 2006 15:21 IST
US President George W Bush said on Saturday that democracy was important for fighting extremism in Pakistan.
However, Bush stopped short of criticising the country's military leader who has reneged on a promise to give up his position as army chief.
"We spent a lot of time discussing democracy in Pakistan, and I believe democracy is Pakistan's future," Bush told a joint press conference with President Pervez Musharraf.
"President Musharraf understands that in the long run the way to defeat terrorism is to replace an ideology of hatred with an ideology of hope," Bush said.
Musharraf ousted an elected leader in a bloodless coup in 1999, but since joining the fight against Al-Qaeda after the September 11, 2001, attacks in the US has faced little pressure from the West for holding the posts of president and army chief at the same time.
Musharraf backed away from a promise to give up his uniform the main source of his power by the end of 2004, and instead changed the constitution with the backing of Parliament, allowing him to hold both posts until 2007.
"Beyond 2007, this is an issue that has to be addressed and according to the Constitution of Pakistan, and I will never violate the Constitution," said the Pakistani leader, repeating similar reassurances made in the past.
Musharraf defended his efforts at democratic reform since taking power six years ago, saying Pakistan now had an elected Parliament and had empowered women and devolved power to local governments.