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Musharraf Against Hasty Pullout.

Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf said an unplanned pullout of troops from Iraq would plunge the country into chaos and have negative effects on other countries in the region. Musharraf made his comments in relation to remarks made by British Gen. Sir Richard Dannatt who dropped a political bombshell by saying the UK must withdraw from Iraq "soon" or risk serious consequences for Iraqi and British society. Gen. Dannatt said the continuing military presence in Iraq was jeopardising British security and interests around the world.

Musharraf, speaking at the launch of "Pakistan First", the Urdu version of his book "In the Line of Fire" late on Oct. 21, said withdrawal of troops from Iraq without proper planning would not be in the interest of the country or the region. Citing the example of Afghanistan, Musharraf said: "I wish to tell all those working on an 'exit strategy' to analyse the post-withdrawal scenario in Iraq in its entirety. To consider what will be the political and social fallout if the occupation forces withdraw without providing an adequate strategy for peace and security in the region".

President Musharraf said no haste should be demonstrated on the withdrawal issue, as an unplanned pullout will plunge the country into anarchy. He added that it was not in the interest of Pakistan to send troops to Iraq.

Referring to his position as the army chief, Musharraf said: "At present I cannot doff my uniform. There are numerous reasons. Pakistan is one of the main targets of terrorism. I have to take swift decisions and so I need to keep the army post". He said he had promised to give up the army chief's post in Dec. 2004 as agreed by his government together with the Muttaheda Majlis-e-Amal. He said: "They - Qazi Hussain Ahmad and Maulana Fazlur Rehman - backed out of their promises as well...therefore I had to change my decision. Those who accuse me of unveiling Pakistan's nuclear secrets have no idea of the problems I had to face when I was told that Dr. Abdul Qadeer Khan's network was involved in nuclear proliferation". He said: "it was very difficult for me to convince the international community that the government and the army were not behind Qadeer in his clandestine operations".

Referring to elections, Musharraf said he would ensure free, fair and transparent elections in Pakistan. Speaking about the Kargil conflict, he said former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif was to blame for troop withdrawal from the Kargil heights despite the Pakistan Army being in a strong position there. He said Sharif instead wanted to put the blame for the withdrawal on him after the 14-day Kargil conflict in the summer of 1999. The book, translated into Urdu by his brother-in-law Hidayatullah Ghaisvee, claims that Musharraf had personally briefed Sharif about the Kargil crisis in an exclusive session, in which he explained that the position of Pakistani troops in Kargil was "quite strong". But Sharif rushed to America, committing the immediate pullout of forces from the Kargil mountaintop, Musharraf said. Refuting allegations that the book was written for personal gains, Musharraf said it was an endeavour to classify, promote and enhance Pakistan's viewpoint to the world.
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Title Annotation:Pervez Musharraf
Publication:APS Diplomat News Service
Geographic Code:9PAKI
Date:Oct 30, 2006
Words:530
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