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Canadian Pakistanis hail Zardari

Calling Yousaf Raza Gillani's installation as Pakistan premier "a master stroke" by Asif Ali Zardari, Canadian Pakistanis have urged President Pervez Musharraf to resign now.

world Updated: Mar 25, 2008 12:29 IST

Calling Yousaf Raza Gillani's installation as Pakistan premier "a master stroke" by Asif Ali Zardari, Canadian Pakistanis have urged President Pervez Musharraf to resign now.

"If he doesn't resign, he should be impeached. The Pakistani people have rejected him and he should go," Pakistan Peoples Party (Canada) convener Mansoor Mirza told IANS.

He said: "Zardari has played a master stroke by bringing the two top parties together to run the country. Till now, the army has made them fight against each other. For the first time in 60 years, Pakistan has now got on track to be a democratic society."

PPP (Canada) women's wing president Suraiya Khan said: "The PPP has saved Pakistan by forging alliances with Nawaz Sharif and appointing Gillani, a Punjabi, as the country's prime minister. People cannot say the PPP is the party of Sindhis only."

She added: "Having spent years in jail, both Zardari and Sharif have matured. Nawaz was Zia ul-Haq's protégé, but he has realized what army rule means. Pakistan will have the rule of law now."

However, Pakistani human rights activists and journalists in exile in Canada were not excited by the installation of Gillani.

"The shadow of the army and repressive police system is still on society. Pakistan will remain unsafe for rights activists and journalists," said Hamilton Spectator reporter Mohsin Abbas, speaking for 30-odd Pakistani journalists living in exile in Canada.

Quoting the 2008 report by Reporters Without Borders, he said, "Six journalists were killed and over 250 - the highest number in Asia - locked up in Pakistan last year alone.

"I was forced to flee in 2002 for doing an investigative story about the death of a fellow journalist. They detained and tortured me.

"Later, when the authorities came to know that I am working on a book titled `Polistan' about the police and press in Pakistan, they raided my office, and detained and tortured me before I fled."

Abbas, who made headlines last year when he was threatened for writing on the role of a Pakistani minister in the murder of a Toronto woman Kafila Siddiqui, said: "I got threatening calls from Pakistan. And the news agency, which ran my story there, was also threatened. I am always scared for journalist friends back in Pakistan."

"Do you think the installation of a PPP-led government will change things for whistle-blowers," he asked.

The exiled Pakistani, who has appeared as a South Asian analyst on the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, Radio Canada International, CTV, and Global TV, said: "Pakistan is light years away from becoming a civil society".

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