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Oppn alliance asks Prez, PM to resign

Exiled former Premiers Benazir Bhutto and Nawaz Sharif have asked Musharraf and Shaukat Aziz to resign by July 31.

india Updated: Jul 03, 2006 16:32 IST

Stepping up pressure on President Pervez Musharraf, two exiled former premiers, Benazir Bhutto and Nawaz Sharif have asked the General and Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz to resign by July 31, failing which the 16-party opposition alliance would begin a process of impeachment against them.

At their six-hour-long meeting on Sunday, the leaders of Alliance for Restoration of Democracy (ARD) endorsed the Charter of Democracy agreed between Sharif and Bhutto recently to end military hold over politics.

It also adopted a host of resolutions condemning the use of state force in Balochistan, Waziristan and victimisation of political opponents by the military junta.

Addressing the meeting, both Sharif and Bhutto accused Musharraf of undermining national sovereignty and endangering the unity of the country. Sharif said Musharraf has done "worse damage to Pakistan than what India inflicted on it".

"The meeting demanded the resignation of Pervez Musharraf and the Prime Minister by July 31 failing which we will move a vote of no-confidence on August 1 against the Musharraf regime," Sharif said reading out from a statement.

Bhutto told reporters that a committee was being constituted which would decide whether both options -impeachment of the president and no-confidence motion against the prime minister would be exercised.

Asked if Musharraf would try to go ahead with his plan to get re-elected by the present assemblies, Sharif said in that case all ARD legislators would quit.

Bhutto said "if Musharraf refuses to have free, fair and impartial elections open to all political parties and political personalities then that means elections will not be a solution" for restoration of democracy.

"We hope that he will change his attitude....(and) allows transition from a military dictatorship to democracy. If he closes the door of elections, that obviously people will look at alternatives," she said.

Asked if ARD would take part in elections under the superivison of Musharraf, Sharif said "we will not walk into the trap laid by the general to get legitmacy for himself".

Both the leaders said they would be returning to Pakistan before the elections and any attempt to block their return would be resisted by the people.

The meeting demanded that all "politically motivated" cases against Bhutto and other leaders should be withdrawn immediately and those living in exile be allowed to safely return to Pakistan.

Maintaining that elections under Musharraf are a "fraud" and can never be free and fair, the ARD leaders said the Pakistan President would not be allowed to hold elections especially in the absence of exiled leaders.

Regretting that parliament has been reduced to a rubber stamp for the Chief of Army Staff, the leaders said "General Musharraf's usurpation of the presidency and attempts at perpetuating himself in office are violation of the Constitution.

The holding of referendum and the changes in the electoral college make a mockery of the constitution."