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Musharraf makes independence day reconciliation appeal

Political stability was necessary to fight extremism and bring economic development to the nuclear-armed nation

PAKISTAN: Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf called for reconciliation in an independence day message on Thursday, making an apparent appeal to opponents who are set to impeach the US-backed leader.

Speaking overnight at a function to mark the 61st anniversary of Pakistan's creation, Musharraf said political stability was necessary to fight extremism and bring economic development to the nuclear-armed nation.

"It's my appeal that we should adopt a reconciliatory approach so that stability should return," a grim-faced Musharraf told the function at the presidential palace.

It was the former general's first public appearance since the ruling coalition announced plans one week earlier to impeach him. It is the only time that a president has faced such a move in Pakistan's history.

"We should all put aside our differences and work to make Pakistan strong," he said.

"Pakistan is passing through a very critical moment in its history and our enemies are trying to weaken us externally and internally." Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani also called for reconciliation - but the premier indicated that it did not apply to Musharraf, who grabbed power in a bloodless military coup in 1999.

"The period of oppression is over forever. Dictatorship has become a story of the past," Gilani said in a speech after the traditional hoisting of the national flag in Islamabad on Thursday. "Our democratic coalition government has adopted a policy of reconciliation. We should move forward for national progress."

He also called for support to fight militancy, saying: "The war against extremism and terrorism is a war for our own survival."

 

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