Musharraf can be hanged for violating constitution: Sharif

June 14th, 2008 - 12:57 pm ICT by IANS  

A file-photo of Nawaz Sharif
Islamabad, June 14 (DPA) Pakistan’s former premier and a major partner in the ruling coalition Nawaz Sharif said Saturday President Pervez Musharraf could be hanged for declaring a state of emergency late last year and sacking of more than 60 judges. Musharraf declared the emergency Nov 3 when the Supreme Court was set to rule on his controversial re-election, in a move that turned him into a highly unpopular figure and caused the crushing defeat of his political allies in the Feb 18 general elections.

Since then there have been rising calls for the beleaguered president to step down.

“We asked you to respect the Feb 18 mandate and quit with honour, but you didn’t,” Sharif told a rally of some 40,000 protesters, which assembled in Islamabad demanding the reinstatement of deposed judges.

“You did not accept the verdict and now hear people have a new judgement for you,” he said as the crowd chanted “hang Musharraf hang.”

“People do not want you to simply leave. They want you to held accountable,” added Sharif, who was ousted by Musharraf in a military coup in 1999.

The speech was the climax of a five-day cross-country motor-rally, dubbed “long march”, of lawyers, rights activists and political workers that are running a campaign to press the new coalition government for the judges’ restoration.

The major coalition partners, slain ex-premier Benazir Bhutto’s Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) and Sharif’s Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), initially agreed on it but later developed serious differences over how to do it.

This prompted the PML-N to pull out its members from the cabinet in protest.

The “long march” started Monday from southern city of Karachi, kicked off its final phase Thursday in a caravan of hundreds of vehicles from the eastern city of Lahore, and swelled immensely as it reached around 300 metres from parliament house in Islamabad early Saturday.

People from different walks of life, from liberal elites to the conservative middle class and fanatic religious elements, joined the protest. All of them were united on two points: sacked judges should return and Musharraf must go.

“My quest for justice has brought me here. These deposed judges are a ray of hope. I believe when restored they will dispense justice to common man as it is done to the elite,” said Mohammed Ashraf, a factory worker, who had travelled 375 km from Faisalabad to participate in the Islamabad rally.

Tahira, a female right activist, said: “Look at Islamabad, it is heartening scene. New democratic Pakistan is emerging. Musharraf and his comrades should read the writing on the wall. There is no room for a dictator in this country.”

Some 6,000 police and paramilitary troops were deployed to restrict the demonstrators from approaching the parliament building and the presidential office, around which the roads were blocked with cargo containers, concrete blocks and barbed wire.

The organizers had initially announced to hold a sit-in till their demands were met, but the plan was called off, mainly because of the scorching heat that would have made it impossible for people to stay.

But analysts believe the massive show of strength by Musharraf’s opponents in the streets of capital would pile pressure on him to quit.

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