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Pakistan Military Chief Pledges Support for Newly-Elected Leaders

  • VOA News

Pakistan's military chief says the armed forces will support the newly-elected lawmakers who are set to form the country's next government.

General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani said Thursday the military supports the democratic process and is "committed to playing its constitutional role" of backing elected leaders.

He was speaking at a meeting of top Pakistani army commanders in the northern city of Rawalpindi.

In the meeting, General Kayani rejected suggestions of a rift between the military and Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf, saying it would not be in the nation's interests.

General Kayani was appointed military chief last year by Mr. Musharraf, who stepped down from the post after winning a second term as president.

General Kayani said Pakistan's military will stay out of the political process and that he hopes the armed forces will not be dragged into what he called "unnecessary controversy."

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Moderate and secular Pakistani opposition parties won a majority of seats in last month's parliamentary elections, defeating the pro-Musharraf ruling party and Islamists. Some of the election winners have since called on Mr. Musharraf to resign.

In another development, the Pakistan People's Party, which won the most seats in the election, has delayed a decision on who to nominate as the country's next prime minister.

The party of slain opposition leader and former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto met Thursday to discuss the issue, but the meeting ended inconclusively.

Several top PPP members are vying for the nomination, including a longtime aide to Ms. Bhutto, Makhdoom Amin Fahim.

Ms. Bhutto's widower, Asif Ali Zardari, has ruled himself out as a candidate for prime minister. The PPP co-chairman is in talks with the party of former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and other, smaller parties on forming a coalition government.

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