Pakistan's President Pervez Musharraf, under mounting pressure to resign, called on Thursday for political stability and reconciliation to tackle economic and security problems.
Musharraf, speaking in an televised Independence Day address, did not refer to a plan to impeach him drawn up by a coalition government led by the party of assassinated former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto.
In his first public comments since the coalition announced its impeachment plan last week, the former army chief and firm U.S ally also did not refer to the calls for him to step down.
“If we want to put our economy on the right track and fight terrorism then we need political stability. Unless we bring political stability, I think we can't fight them properly,” Musharraf said.
Musharraf has been at the centre of a political crisis since early last year that has heightened concerns in the United States and among its allies about the stability of Pakistan, a nuclear-armed Muslim state that is also a hiding place for al Qaeda leaders.
Speculation has been rife that Musharraf, who seized power in a 1999 coup, would quit rather than face impeachment, though his spokesman has consistently denied that.
“Political stability, in my view, can only be brought through a reconciliation approach as opposed to confrontation,” Musharraf said. “Differences should be buried.”
Coalition officials were not immediately available for comment but Musharraf's appeal would appear unlikely to check what they call a “tidal wave” of opposition to him.