Musharraf breaks bread with his opponents

April 25th, 2008 - 1:56 pm ICT by admin  

A file-photo of Pervez Musharraf

Islamabad, April 25 (IANS) Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf broke bread with some of his bitterest opponents at a dinner hosted by Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani here. Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi, Information Minister Sherry Rehman and Privatisation Minister Naveed Qamar were among those who shared the high table with Muwharraf at the dinner Thursday night, hosted for the formation commanders and the service chiefs on the lawns of the prime minister’s house here.

Education Minister Ahsan Iqbal, an outspoken critic of the president, was also seated at the same table, as were Pakistani Army Chief General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, General Tariq Majeed, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee, and the Pakistani Navy chief Admiral Afzal Tahir.

“This was the first time since the cabinet’s oath-taking March 31 that a number of PML-N (Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz) ministers came face to face with the president,” the Dawn reported Friday.

During the oath-taking ceremony, PML-N members had worn black armbands and even boycotted the tea party hosted by Musharraf.

“But this time, as the dinner was hosted by the prime minister, the PML-N ministers had no choice but to sit with the head of state,” Dawn noted.

Most ministers and guests left the venue after the dinner and did not attend the musical performance that followed.

Speaking on the occasion, the prime minister called for “a new and balanced relationship between the civil and military institutions of the state”.

Gilani said the nation welcomed the recent remarks by the army chief on strict adherence to the oath to safeguard the constitution.

“Adherence to the structural command by concentrating strictly on professional matters alone has also greatly enhanced the respect of the forces in the eyes of the people at large,” he added.

Gilani also lauded all the stakeholders who contributed to Pakistan’s democratic transition, especially the armed forces, for their judicious and prudent approach to the unfolding political realities.

“Unlike other armies of the world, the Pakistan Army carries a unique and delicate responsibility. It has to defend the ideological boundaries along with the geographical boundaries of this country,” he said.

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