Musharraf to seek Europe's backing

Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf will seek support from the European Union and Nato during his four-country trip to Europe where he is expected to face queries about his rule.

Speaking to representatives of Belgium's Pakistani community on the eve of the formal part of his Brussels visit, Musharraf vowed on Sunday that the election on February 18 would be democratic.

Fears for nuclear-armed Pakistan's stability were aggravated sharply by the assassination of opposition leader Benazir Bhutto in a bomb and gun attack on December 27.

Musharraf will meet Belgian Prime Minister Guy Verhofstadt, EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana and Nato Secretary-General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer in Brussels. He will go to Paris to meet President Nicolas Sarkozy, then attend the World Economic Forum in Switzerland and meet Prime Minister Gordon Brown.

On Saturday Spanish police arrested 14 South Asians, among them 12 Pakistanis, on suspicion they may have been plotting attacks in Barcelona.

Commenting on the development, Musharraf said: "This is not good for Pakistan, this is not good for Islam."

REUTERS

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