Pakistan president concerned over Ramadan fighting
ISTANBUL, Nov 7 (Reuters) - Pakistani President General Pervez Musharraf said on Wednesday he hoped U.S. military operations in Afghanistan would not continue through the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.
Musharraf, speaking in Istanbul during a brief stopover, said he would discuss the matter with U.S. President George Bush in the United States.
Pakistan has put military facilities at Washington's disposal for search and rescue operations in neighbouring Afghanistan. But there is some concern there about possible continuation of a U.S. bombing campaign over Ramadan, which begins in the middle of this month.
"One would certainly wish it would not go on during Ramadan because it will definitely have negative effects around the Islamic world," he said. Musharraf did not say categorically that fighting should stop over the Muslim month of fasting.
The United States has indicated it will continue its campaign in Afghanistan, where it believes the ruling Taliban are sheltering the man suspected of masterminding the September attacks on the United States, Saudi-born Osama bin Laden.
Musharraf said he hoped the military action in Afghanistan, part of a U.S. strategy that also involves efforts to close down funding of groups that are deemed accomplices to terrorism, would finish quickly. He said media had given an inaccurate impression of the campaign as being aimed at the innocent people of Afghanistan. "This is not the case," he said.
He denied suggestions that opposition to the war in his own country could endanger his own administration. He said militant Islamists represented only a small minority in Pakistan. "Pakistan is a very moderate Islamic country," he said.
Musharraf was due to fly on to Paris, London and New York. He had met earlier in the day with Iranian officials during a short stopover in Tehran. "I can very proudly say that Pakistan and Turkey share a commonality of vision and a commonality of thoughts on Afghanistan whatever is happening there."
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