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Hecklers Disrupt Musharraf Speech to Pakistan Parliament - 2004-01-17


Hecklers have disrupted Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf's speech to parliament -- his first since seizing power in a bloodless coup more than four years ago.

Opposition lawmakers shouted their disapproval of the president throughout his 40-minute, nationally televised address (today/Saturday) to a joint session of parliament. The noise grew louder when supporters of General Musharraf thumped tables and banged chairs in a show of approval.

Some members of the main religious opposition walked out of the chamber in protest.

In his speech the president called on Pakistanis to wage war against extremism, saying it represents a danger to Pakistan and has given Islam a bad image in the world.

General Musharraf said Pakistan must change the perception it fosters terrorism in Afghanistan and sends terrorists across the Line of Control with India in Kashmir. He said the country also faces allegations it has contributed to the proliferation of nuclear arms.

Hardline Islamists in Pakistan are strongly against the president's open support of the United States in the fight against global terrorism. General Musharraf has survived two assassination attempts in recent weeks.

Information for this report is provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.

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