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Reaching for Democracy in Pakistan

January 14, 2002

I feel elated to find my name quoted on two consecutive dispatches from Pakistan by David Lamb. However, in the Jan. 10 dispatch, "Pakistanis See Their Nation Transformed," the last sentence does not faithfully reflect the spirit of my answers to his question put to me: Would Pakistani President Gen. Pervez Musharraf restore democracy by October of this year?

I replied that five things are certain: 1) there shall be elections in October 2002; 2) before elections are held there would be amendments to the constitution which envision a parliamentary form of government, to give an effective executive role to the president in the affairs of the state; 3) a mechanism shall be introduced through which the armed forces of the country would have institutional say in the policy formulation for the country--in fact, before Musharraf took over power in October 1999, there was a sort of growing consensus in the country that such a role was necessary for political stability and the health of policies of the country; 4) Musharraf would certainly be around as president--he has declared that quite openly; and 5) the political clout of the political parties is not quite clear at this stage.

Lt. Gen. Syed Refaqat (Ret.)

Islamabad, Pakistan

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