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The BBC's Susannah Price
"The general's commitment to restoring democracy will undoubtedly be welcomed"
 real 28k

Tuesday, 10 October, 2000, 11:52 GMT 12:52 UK
Pakistani leader defends record
Coup
The military seized power in October last year
Pakistan's military ruler General Pervez Musharraf has defended his government's performance as the first anniversary of the military coup approaches.


We will return to our place exactly after three years in accordance with the deadline given by the Supreme Court

General Musharraf
Speaking to journalists in Lahore, General Musharraf said the economy, which was his priority, had turned the corner.

He said all the indications were that it was improving.

His critics say that over the past year, there has been no recovery as the government has failed to carry out any structural reforms.

General Musharraf admitted that price rises were a problem but pointed to other areas, such as the increase in Gross Domestic Product and tax revenue and the revival of the industrial sector, to illustrate the government's success.

Democracy

He also reiterated that he was committed to a court ruling that civilian rule should be restored within three years from the coup on 12 October 1999.

IMF protest
Pakistan has been seeking new arrangements with donors
"We will hand over power to elected people and we have an elaborate plan to achieve this," he said.

He said district-level elections would be held in the first half of next year, and then there would be a year and two months to organise provincial and general elections.

However, he did not outline how these would be arranged in such a short space of time.

The BBC's Susannah Price in Islamabad says it seems inevitable there will be disappointment with the government given the high expectations raised after last year's coup.

Human rights

Meanwhile, a human rights group has accused the military government of widespread abuses.

The international human rights organisation, Human Rights Watch, says General Musharraf's government has detained opponents without charge, removed independent judges from the higher courts and banned public gatherings.

The report says civil liberties in Pakistan have been systematically destroyed in the name of political reform.

The organisation calls on General Pervez Musharraf to restore constitutional rule and democracy to the country.

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See also:

14 Aug 00 | South Asia
Musharraf unveils local election plan
25 May 00 | South Asia
Musharraf pledges return to democracy
06 Aug 00 | South Asia
Musharraf urged to hold elections
23 Mar 00 | South Asia
Pakistan sets election timetable
23 Mar 00 | South Asia
Profile: General Pervez Musharraf
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