has good future for Pakistan but sees no early prospects of its restoration"
Gen. Jehangir Karamat.
Event reported by:
Syed Parwaiz Imam
RIYADH, May 4 2000 General (retd.) Jehangir Karamat, the former chief of the Pakistan Army, said that democracy remains the only viable alternative for Pakistan, although he sees no prospects of its restoration in the near future.He was delivering a keynote address on the occasion of "Pakistan Day" function organized by the Pakistan Cultural Group (PCG) at the hotel Intercontinental, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. Pakistans ambassador Khalid Mehmood, renowned poet Muhammed Anwar Masood, Nawaz Choudhary head of chancery Pakistan embassy, Shamshad Ali Siddiqui and a large number of Pakistanis were present.
Earlier, Abdul Hameed Abu Farooq, honorary secretary general of PCG, described his organization as non-political and said it had been playing an important role in cementing Saudi-Pakistani relations since 1984.
Tracing the background to the developments that led to the army take over, General Karamat said the situation was dictated by the course of events during the Nawaz Sharif regime. He said that the then government had become high-handed and was using strong arms tactics to keep itself in power.
"When I was the chief of the army staff I did pinpoint the abuse of political power and politicization of the army. When I saw no prospects of an improvement in the situation, I decided to resign in the best interest of the country and not to get involved in the looming crises, " General Karamat said.
During the question-answer session that followed, General Karamat was asked about the prospects of a return to democracy in Pakistan. "Yes, democracy has a future in Pakistan, but it will take time, " he said, adding that the present government of General Pervez Musharraf was working in that direction.
He, however, clarified that the Western model of democracy does not necessarily suit Pakistan, since it requires a high degree of political maturity, an educated electorate and responsible behavior on the part of the political parties.
In this context, he stressed the need for an autonomous election commission and an independent judiciary to strengthen the roots of a democratic culture. This would also prevent future interventions by the army and maintain political stability in the country.
Pointing out that political stability was a vital factor for national
progress, General Karamat cited Kingdom of Saudi Arabia as an example to illustrate how
the Kingdom has achieved progress because of political stability. He said Pakistan needs
political stability on the same ground.
In his address, Pakistan ambassador, Khalid Mehmood said that there was no dispute over the fact that there should be a return to democracy, political stability, end to corruption and a system of checks and balances on the abuse of power. "These are the objectives that the government of Chief Executive General Pervez Musharraf is pursuing. It is a slow process. But it is trying to tackle the disease and not the symptoms," the ambassador said.
He called upon the Pakistani community in the Kingdom to strengthen the
hands of the government at the present political juncture.
Anwar Masood, who flew in from Pakistan, regaled the audience with his humorous poetry in Urdu and Punjabi. The function concluded with a presentation of souvenirs to the two guests, which was followed by the dinner for those who were present.
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