News

DATE=12/5/1999 TYPE=CORRESPONDENT REPORT TITLE=PAKISTAN POLITICS (L-ONLY) NUMBER=2-256855 BYLINE=AYAZ GUL DATELINE=ISLAMABAD CONTENT= VOICED AT: INTRO: Pakistan's military ruler Genral Pervez Musharraf has promised to restore elected local governments by the end of the year 2000. The military leader, who seized power in a bloodless coup in October, says he is committed to building genuine democracy in the country. From Islamabad, Ayaz Gul reports. TEXT: The move would be the first step toward fulfilling General Musharraf's promise of giving, as he puts it, genuine democracy to Pakistan. An official statement (issued late Saturday) quotes General Musharraf as saying district-level elected governments will be in place within a year. The military leader says his government is seeking to build democratic institutions through the "devolution", or transfer, of power. In order to achieve that objective, he says electoral reforms will be introduced to strengthen Pakistan's election commission. General Musharraf made no mention of restoring the national or provincial parliaments that were suspended when he seized power in a coup October 12th. Addressing a Pakistani-American organization in the capital last Friday, General Musharraf said democracy could flourish in the country only through this "devolution", or transfer, and passing down of power to the grass roots level. //Musharraf Act// We have to devolve power down to the grass root level. We mean to the district level. We have to give power, shed power from the center to the provinces and from the provinces to the districts. The people must be masters of their own destiny. //End Act// General Musharraf holds the "elite" responsible for failing the poor majority of the country's 135-million people. A Pakistani leader has rarely made such critical remarks in the past. //Musharraf Act Two// Pakistan has been let down by the elite's. It is we all, me included. It's the bureaucratic elite, it's the industrial elite, it's the military elite, it's the religious elite, and it's the political elite. There is a mental block in our minds because we cannot act against the powerful, against the rich. //End Act// Political analysts have long blamed Pakistan's tiny "elite" of running the country for their own vested interests since it's creation in 1947. A succession of governments have done little to improve the lot of ordinary people, with an average Pakistani earning less than 50-dollars a month.(Signed) NEB/AG/PLM 05-Dec-1999 08:34 AM EDT (05-Dec-1999 1334 UTC) NNNN Source: Voice of America .