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Pak not ready for true democracy: Musharraf

Given Pakistan's chequered political history, the way to true democracy has been difficult, the General says in his memoir.

india Updated: Sep 29, 2006 18:34 IST

Months before the 2007 general election in Pakistan, President Pervez Musharraf has indicated that his country is not ready for "true democracy".

"Our system still has a long way to go before achieving stability and true democracy. But we are making progress, slowly but surely, from election to election," Musharraf writes in his autobiography In The Line Of Fire.

"True democracy will dawn when each political party introduces genuine democracy within itself, when a party's federal and provincial council members are elected by party workers and in turn elect the various party office holders," he says.

Given Pakistan's chequered political history, alternating between martial law and "sham" democracy, the way to true democracy has been "difficult", the 63-year old Pakistani leader contended.

Musharraf, who has promised to hold elections in 2007, had reneged on his announcement to step down as army chief by December 31, 2004.

The reasons for not doing so, he avers, was that on the domestic front, the MMA was not fulfilling its promises and the maulanas had started to adopt a confrontational approach.

He said the war on terror was heating up in south and north Waziristan.

"Over and above all this, Pakistan in general and AQ Khan in particular came into the limelight on the sensitive issue of nuclear proliferation, which needed the most careful handling."

"With all this facing Pakistan, with so many pulls in different directions, there was a dire need for unity of command in governance," he says, seeking to justify his move.

By this, he implied a single authority over bureaucracy, the political system and the military.

"Whether anyone liked it or not, circumstances had vested this command in me," he says, observing, "In the changed environment, I thought that removing my uniform would dilute my authority and command at a time when both were required most."

Musharraf regretted that a "functioning democracy" has eluded Pakistan since it came into being on August 14, 1947.

He said: "Rule by the people", which is the spirit of democracy, has been "entirely forgotten".

Instead, what Pakistan has consciously constructed is rule by a small elite -- "never democratic, often autocratic, usually plutocratic and lately kleptocratic -- all working with a tribal feudal mindset".

First Published: Sep 29, 2006 17:06 IST