Oppn threatens civil disobedience
Former Pakistan Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto's Pakistan People's Party (PPP) has said it would consider boycotting polls if President Pervez Musharraf got himself re-elected while continuing as the Army chief even as other opposition parties threatened to launch a civil disobedience movement over the issue.
Bhutto's confidante and top PPP leader Amin Fahim was quoted by the newly-launched Dawn news as saying that his party would mull boycotting the general elections if Musharraf continued to hold the dual posts of president and army chief.
His reaction came as Musharraf in his recent meeting with legislators of ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Q (PML-Q) said that he would get elected by the existing national and provincial assemblies between September 15 and October 15 this year after which he would hold general elections.
On Friday, he told reporters in Karachi that he would act according to the constitution in deciding about his uniform.
Musharraf argues that constitutionally he is entitled to retain the uniform till the end of this year after which he says he would decide.
His recent remarks in an interview that uniform is his second skin and cannot be separated from him has created misgivings even to Bhutto who publicly admitted of having held talks with Musharraf to reach a deal.
The growing crisis over the suspension of Chief Justice Iftikar M Chaudhry and the May 12 violence in Karachi, the stronghold of PPP has also made Bhutto revise her strategy of having any rapprochement with him.
The PPP, however, boycotted all opposition party meetings organised by Jamat-i-Islami, Chief Qazi Hussain Ahmed in Islamabad on Friday, where a resolution was passed to organise a civil disobedience movement against the government if Musharraf went ahead with his move.
Leaders of former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif's Pakistan Muslim League-N (PML-N), allied parties of Islamist alliance Muthahida Majlis Amal (MMA), cricketer-turned politician Imran Khan and leaders of Pakistan Oppressed Nations Movement (PONM), Haji Adeel of the Awami National Party (ANP) took part in the meeting.
Former Army Chief, Aslam Beg and ex-ISI Chief, Hamid Gul also took part in the meeting.
A CDM would be launched if Musharraf resorts to any extra-constitutional act to prolong his tenure, Ahmed said.
PPP boycotted the meeting declining to associate with MMA not taking a strong stand against the religious extremists and obscurantist forces.
"We feel that Musharraf has already violated the Constitution by declaring his intentions of resorting to extra-constitutional steps to prolong his tenure," Ahmed said.
The meeting also called for removal of all hurdles in return of Sharif and Bhutto from abroad.
Ahmed said that opposition parties would strongly resist any extra-constitutional steps from Musharraf and would even call for countrywide disobedience movement.
He said the opposition parties would appeal to the nation not to cooperate with the government. "The consultative meeting of opposition parties remained very successful and all opposition parties were unanimous of the view to end the role of army in politics, resignation of Musharraf and the government, restoration of constitution as it was on October 12, 1999 and fair elections under an interim government," Ahmed said.
The opposition parties held Musharraf and the Muttahida Qaumi Movement, (MQM) responsible for the May 12 violence and killings in Karachi and demanded to bring Altaf Hussain for trial back to Pakistan.
Earlier, addressing the meeting Maulana Fazlur Rehman said the only agenda of Musharraf was to prolong his tenure whether he had to take any extra-constitutional steps, including imposition of emergency in the country.
Leader of the opposition in the National Assembly and MMA General Secretary Fazalur Rehman said the only agenda of Musharraf was to prolong his tenure whether he had to take any extra-constitutional steps, including imposition of emergency in the country.
Fazl said Musharraf made the chief justice as non-functional as he considered him a major hurdle in prolonging his tenure.
He suggested that the opposition leaders should convince Bhutto to sit join opposition alliance.
Imran Khan said he would soon go to London to start legal proceedings against Altaf Hussain, who he said, was a "terrorist" and was responsible for all what happened in Karachi on May 12.
The meeting also demanded a judicial inquiry into the Karachi violence to expose faces behind the unrest in the Sindh capital.