Musharraf commits to democracy, fighting terrorism at start of Europe tour

Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf opened a European tour on Monday by offering assurances that his government is committed to democracy and playing its full role in the global fight against terrorism. Before meeting with senior European Union and NATO officials, Musharraf said his country, while plagued by terrorism and extremism, will have "fair, transparent and peaceful elections" on Feb. 18. The Pakistani leader, who will meet with several European leaders during his eight-day visit, said it was important for the West to understand that it has a reliable ally in Pakistan. Speaking to reporters, Musharraf said he expects from EU leaders understanding for his country's predicament and stressed that, in return, they can expect Pakistan to stay the course on democracy and the rule of law. He acknowledged that 2007 had been an extremely "turbulent" year for Pakistan but underlined that the country's nuclear arms remained safely in the hands of the military establishment.