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Musharraf hopes strikes end by Ramadan

Musharraf has said most Pakistanis back his decision to suppport the U.S. campaign  

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan (CNN) -- Pakistani President General Pervez Musharraf has told CNN he hopes the U.S.-led strikes on Afghanistan end before the start of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

Speaking Monday in an interview recorded for CNN's "Larry King Live" Musharraf said military action during the Ramadan period "would certainly have some negative effects in the Muslim world."

With Ramadan beginning in mid-November he said he hoped the U.S. achieves its military objectives so the strikes can come to an end "as fast as possible."

"The duration of the operation is dependent upon the achievement of objectives so any military operation has to identify clearly what the military objectives are and one has to achieve the objectives before bringing the operation to an end," Musharraf said.

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Ramadan looms large in Afghan strikes 

"But one really does wish and hope that the objectives are achieved and that the military operation is short."

On the upcoming month of Ramadan the Pakistani president hinted that he hoped it would come into play as the U.S. pushes ahead with its war on terrorism.

"It should not have any effect on the campaign as such but it may have some effects on the Muslim world," he said.

'Hope for restraint'

Musharraf says he hopes the military campaign will be short
Musharraf says he hopes the military campaign will be short  

"One would hope and wish that this campaign comes to an end before the month of Ramadan and one would hope for restraint during the month of Ramadan because this would certainly have some negative effects in the Muslim world."

But at a Pentagon briefing Monday, U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld discounted the possibility of halting the campaign for Ramadan.

"There continues to be terrorist threats in this world, and the sooner we deal with this problem, the less likely it is that you're going to have additional terrorist attacks," Rumsfeld said. However, he said U.S. officials remain sensitive to the concerns of allies in Muslim countries.

Musharraf's comments come at a time of increasing political pressure from hardline Islamic groups in Pakistan.

Several groups have staged protests in cities across Pakistan against the military operation designed to oust Afghanistan's ruling Taliban and expressing support for suspected terrorist Osama bin Laden.

Musharraf has repeatedly said most Pakistanis stand by him in his support of the U.S.-led campaign.

Last week, during U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell's visit to Pakistan, Musharraf said he believes the U.S.-led "military campaign in Afghanistan should be short and targeted".

However, he reaffirmed Pakistan's support for the anti-terror coalition as long as it lasts saying his nation would stand beside the United States for "as long as it took to achieve the desired result."

-- The Larry King Live interview with President Musharraf is scheduled to air on CNN and CNN International Monday night US time; Tuesday morning Asia time. (2100 EDT, 0900 HKT or 0100 GMT)

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