Musharraf under pressure from all quarters to quit

May 28th, 2008 - 6:20 pm ICT by admin  

A file-photo of Pervez Musharraf
By Muhammad Najeeb
Islamabad, May 28 (IANS) President Pervez Musharraf, all-powerful ruler of Pakistan from October 1999 till recently, is under pressure to quit from almost all quarters including some of his former aides in the army. Former generals like Jamshed Gulzar Kiani and General Majid appearing on TV debates have criticised Musharraf’s policies as president and chief of the army staff and demanded his resignation.

Last week 26 former generals in a meeting issued the same demand.

Musharraf came to power after overthrowing the elected government of Nawaz Sharif whose Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) is now part of the ruling coalition and has been demanding his impeachment by parliament.

The All Pakistan Democratic Movement (APDM), an alliance of 22 political parties, and lawyers are also demanding his immediate resignation.

Asif Ali Zardari, co-chairman of the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) which is the main ruling party, said last week it would be better if Musharraf quits himself, hinting that he may be impeached otherwise.

Musharraf Wednesday received yet another shock as a petition was filed in the Supreme Court urging it to get Musharraf to vacate the Army House.

After quitting as army chief in December last year and taking oath as “civilian president”, Musharraf declared the Army House under the army’s General Headquarters (GHQ) in nearby Rawalpindi as his Camp Office.

Since then he continues to travel daily between Rawalpindi and Islamabad presidency. He holds most of the meetings in the Camp House that is situated adjacent to the GHQ.

In his petition filed through barrister Farooq Hassan under Article 184 A, Save Judiciary Movement secretary general Jameel Akhtar pleaded to the court that Musharraf cannot reside in the Army House any more as he had retired as army chief. “He has illegally occupied the Army House,” the petitioner said.

There are reports that the defence ministry has already issued a letter to the prime minister house requesting to get the Army House vacated. However, sources in Prime Minister Syed Yousaf Raza Gillani’s secretariat say this letter had not been forwarded to the president’s office.

The only ray of hope for Musharraf is from the US administration that appears to be engaged in a last ditch effort to persuade the PPP to allow Musharraf to retain office, even if it is without his powers, or work out a face-saving ‘minus two’ formula under which both the president and Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry would make an exit.

While the US embassy here has denied any plans for a visit by Deputy Secretary of State John Negroponte, who has so far stood in Musharraf’s corner throughout his contest with democratic forces, two visiting US senators are reported to have brought the message with them.

The senators have been meeting key figures in Islamabad, including Musharraf, Gillani and Zardari. Indeed it is Zardari’s latest attacks on Musharraf that seem to have prompted Washington to begin a renewed effort to rescue its floundering friend.

Informed sources, however, say that Zardari has told the US senators that, given the opinion of the Pakistani people, there is no room to allow Musharraf to stay on.

“The US now seems to be ready to accept a new person as president,” a senior PPP leader told IANS.

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