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Imran asks Zardari to resign, calls for free and fair polls

Demanding resignations of President Asaf Ali Zardari and PM Yousuf Raza Gilani, Tehreek-e-Insaf party leader Imran Khan has called for a free and fair elections at the earliest possible in Pakistan to resolve the present crisis. No threat to democracy, says Gilanivideo | Amid crisis, Prez travels to Dubai

world Updated: Jan 12, 2012 16:31 IST
Pakistan army commanders meet amid rising tensions,Islamabad,Pakistan

Tehreek-e-Insaf party leader Imran Khan has called for a free and fair elections at the earliest possible in Pakistan to resolve the present crisis. Saying that the govt has lost its moral right to govern, politician and former cricketer Imran Khan said that Zardari should resign from the assembly and the government must respect the Supreme Court's order to repeal Zardari's amnesty.

Khan also said that he was against the army staging any coup in the country and the people of Pakistan were against any sort of dictatorship.

Khan said that the government has affected the democracy in the country in the worst manner and the system in the country will not be affected if the present government goes.

Khan also said that Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani was a puppet of President Zardari.

Meanwhile, Pakistan's military says the country's army chief has summoned his commanders amid spiking tensions between the armed forces and the civilian government.

Military spokesman Maj Muhammad Ali Diyal declined to say what the talks Thursday at army headquarters were about.

On Wednesday, the prime minister fired the defense secretary and the powerful military warned of "grievous consequences", widening a destabilizing rift between the country's institutions.

Relations between President Asif Ali Zardari and the generals have never been good, but have soured dramatically in recent months. Pakistan's army has ruled Pakistan for much of its six-decade existence, and no civilian government has ever completed its term in office.

Earlier today, United States has said it is monitoring the situation in Pakistan and reiterated its commitment to a civilian-led democracy there. The strong statement in support of the civilian government gains significance in the wake of the increased tension between the government led by the President, Asif Ali Zardari, and the Pakistani military led by its Army Chief, Gen Ashfaq Pervez Kayani.

This has given rise to speculation of another military coup in Pakistan, which since it gained its independence in 1947 has been ruled by the Army for majority of the years.

"We support a civilian-led government, we have strong relations with the Pakistani military as well, and we want to see the parties work well together – this is a matter for Pakistan to settle.

I don't think it's appropriate for the United States to be in the middle of it," the State Department spokesperson, Victoria Nuland, told reporters during an off camera news conference on Wednesday.

The US Embassy in Islamabad, led by the Ambassador, Cameron Munter, is in constant touch with leaders of Pakistan, she said. "We continue to have broad contacts with the Pakistani leadership. Ambassador Munter is in country. He's seeing a broad cross-section of people. We have said that we are ready to discuss the parliamentary report when they are ready to discuss it with us," Nuland said.

Responding to questions on the tension between the Pak army and the civilian government, Nuland said this is an internal matter of Pakistan. "With regard to some of the press reporting we've seen in recent days it's obviously an internal matter for Pakistan to settle.

We are monitoring it. We want to see all parties in Pakistan behave in a manner consistent with Pakistan's constitution, with its democratic processes, civil discourse, et cetera," she said.

(with PTI inputs)

First Published: Jan 12, 2012 11:42 IST