Opposition launches anti-Musharraf campaign

ISLAMABAD OCT. 26. The alliance of mainstream Pakistan political parties — Alliance for Restoration of Democracy (ARD) — on Friday launched a `mass contact' programme from the capital of the Frontier, Peshawar, in support of its demands for resignation of Pervez Musharraf as the Army Chief and withdrawal of the controversial amendments to the Constitution.

The alliance came down heavily on the Pervez Musharraf-Mir Zafarullah Khan Jamali Government for the raids in the tribal areas in search of Al-Qaeda fugitives and demanded that they be stopped.

This is one issue on which the ARD and the Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal (MMA) are in total agreement. Separately the MMA, which is negotiating a deal with the Government, has said that it would take to the streets if the Jamali Government failed to respond to its demands by Ramadan expected in the last week of November.

The Jamali Government is going through the ritual of running the National Assembly despite continuous boycott by the Opposition.

With the Pakistan President having ruled out any timetable for giving up his Army uniform, the Prime Minister has little to offer by way of settlement to the MMA.

At the Peshawar rally, the newly-elected ARD chairman, Makhdoom Amin Fahim, said that all those judges who had legitimised the military coup and allowed changes in the Constitution would be tried along with Army Generals under Article 6 when the ARD came into power.

The Pakistan People's Party leader was of the view that judges of superior courts were equally responsible for the successive military takeovers in the country. He said that after every military coup, the judges had legalised it under the `doctrine of necessity', which caused great damage to the country's democracy.

Referring to the ongoing Army operations in the Southern Waziristan Agency, Mr. Fahim asked the Government to immediately stop them. He said it was not correct to consider the tribal people as providing shelter to Al-Qaeda fugitives. Destruction of the tribesmen's houses was also unjust. "The Army is fed through people's taxes and as such it cannot launch an illegal operation against the taxpayers," he told the meeting.

Mr. Fahim rejected the Government's claims about the betterment of socio-economic conditions and said poverty and unemployment had become two permanent features of Pakistan.

The ARD president, Makhdoom Javed Hashmi, criticised the Army Generals for "turning the country into a U.S. satellite" and "betraying the Afghan people" after the 9/11 attacks. The generals were the enemies of democracy and the rule of law, he charged.

Recalling the efforts of politicians to push the nuclear programme, he said the late PPP chairman, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, had laid the foundations of this project and Mian Nawaz Sharif had completed it, but both of them were punished by the generals. The former U.S. President, Bill Clinton, he said, had telephoned Mr. Nawaz Sharif many times and asked him not to carry out nuclear tests, but he (Mr. Sharif) refused to succumb to the U.S. pressure.

But, a single telephone call from the U.S. President, George Bush, made the generals take a U-turn on Afghanistan, he alleged.

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