Musharraf says is ready to work with new parliament

Embattled Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf said in a column published on Friday that he was ready to work with the newly elected parliament to fight terrorism and build a stable democratic government to promote long-term economic growth.

“Because these goals are shared by the vast majority of Pakistanis, I am certain we can and will accomplish them, and I stand ready to work with the newly elected parliament to achieve these objectives,” Musharraf wrote in a column printed in Friday’s Washington Post.

Musharraf has been one of Washington’s top Muslim allies in the battle against al Qaeda, but faces a hostile parliament after a stunning defeat in Monday’s general election.

Leaders of the two parties that won the election, the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) and the Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz), or PML-N, vowed on Thursday to work together to form a government, raising the prospect of a government intent on forcing Musharraf out of power.

Musharraf said success in the efforts to build democracy and a strong economy and to fight extremism in Pakistan depend on continued support from the United States.

“I would ask Americans to remember that building democracy is difficult in the best of conditions,” Musharraf wrote.

“Doing so in a complex country such as Pakistan — with its uneasy political history, with its centuries-old regional and feudal cleavages, and with violent extremists dedicated to the defeat of democracy — is even more challenging.”

The United States had welcomed Monday’s election as a step toward restoration of democracy and expressed hope for continued cooperation on counterterrorism.

While Washington has considered Musharraf a bulwark against al Qaeda, it has also pressured him for tougher action against the Islamist group behind the September 11 attacks.

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