A key party in Pakistan's ruling coalition rapped US President George W. Bush on Saturday for lending support to beleaguered President Pervez Musharraf.
Bush telephoned Musharraf on Friday and backed his "continuing role" in promoting Pakistan's ties with the United States, the White House said.
Musharraf has been a key ally in the US-led war on terror. But his opponents won February elections and are cranking up their calls for his resignation as head of state.
A spokesman for the party of Nawaz Sharif, whose government was ousted by Musharraf's 1999 coup and is now the second-largest in the ruling coalition, said on Saturday that Bush's call could harm Pakistan-US relations.
"He should have advised Musharraf to step down. This would have earned a lot of respect for President Bush and the United States of America in the hearts and minds of the people of Pakistan," Sadiqul Farooq told The Associated Press.
"Our party has not taken President Bush's call as a friendly and pro-democratic step," Farooq said.
Musharraf ended his eight-year domination of Pakistani politics by resigning from the army last year and holding elections in which his political allies were routed.
He has vowed to cooperate with the new civilian government.
But the two-month-old coalition government is held together by the desire to strip the unpopular president of his remaining powers, including the right to dissolve Parliament.