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Musharraf urged to follow Indian poll model

A former ISI chief said that in order to ensure a credible election next year, a credible Chief Election Commissioner is appointed.

india Updated: Aug 16, 2006 17:26 IST

A former ISI chief has asked Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf to follow the Indian model in appointing a person with "experience in civil administration" as Chief Election Commissioner to make the next year's general elections "more credible and acceptable".

"One day the power has to be transferred to the true representatives of the people.

The President has to assure them (political parties) that the next elections will be free and fair," retired General Asad Durrani, former ISI Director General, wrote in an article published in The Nation on Wednesday.

"A neutral election commission, preferably constituted in consultation with the major parties, is the sine qua non of such an assurance. But indeed an election commission by itself, especially when headed by a retired judge, cannot ensure non-interference by the crafty establishment.

"One may, therefore, look at the Indian practice of appointing a reputable person with experience in civil administration," Durrani wrote.

In order to ensure a "credible" election next year, Musharraf should ensure that a "credible Chief Election Commissioner" conducted the poll process, he said.

Musharraf recently appointed Justice (retd) Qazi Muhammad Farooq as the Chief Election Commissioner but the opposition parties have criticised the appointment, saying that he was not a consensus candidate.

Durrani also suggested that Musharraf could get re-elected as President after reaching an understanding with the opposition parties with a promise to quit the post of Army Chief.

In another development, a group of senior politicians and retired judges, including a former caretaker prime minister and two former chief justices, has written an open letter to Musharraf asking him to relinquish the office of Chief of Army Staff and "obey the Constitution of Pakistan".

The letter said they "do firmly believe that severe fault lines have emerged in the underpinnings of our Federation during your tenure in the highest office of our state".

"We are particularly anxious about military action in Balochistan, and FATA, where hundreds of innocent Pakistanis, including women, children and the elderly, have been killed by Pakistani soldiers and airmen using gun-ship helicopters under your direct command as Chief of Army Staff," they said.

The letter have been signed, among others, by Mir Balak Sher Mazari, former caretaker Prime Minister, Syed Fakhar Imam and Ilahi Bux Soomro, former Speakers of National Assembly and Justice Sajjad Ali Shah and Justice Saeeduz Zaman Siddiqui, former Chief Justices of the Supreme Court.

This is the second letter in which the President has been urged to step down from the post of army chief and take steps to ensure free and fair elections in the country by setting up a neutral caretaker government.

Earlier, several Generals, including those associated with Musharraf in the past, had written a similar letter asking him to quit one of the offices.