Legislators step up protests against Pakistan’s President Musharraf

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan (AP) – About 50 politicians from Pakistan’s largest Islamic political party are ready to resign to force President Gen. Pervez Musharraf to step down, an official said Sunday as dozens of party supporters staged a noisy rally in the capital.


Chanting “Musharraf! Resign!” about 30 legislators, cabinet ministers from Pakistan’s North West Frontier province and about 100 supporters of Jamaat-e-Islami gathered in downtown Islamabad.


Jamaat-e-Islami – Pakistan’s oldest and best organized Islamic party – leads a six-member religious coalition that opposes Musharraf’s alliance with Washington and has demanded he resign.


The coalition made unexpected gains in parliamentary elections in 2002 mainly because of its opposition to Musharraf’s support for the U.S.-led war in Afghanistan that ousted the Taliban militia in late 2001 for harbouring al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden.


Musharraf has also angered the coalition by reneging on a promise to step down as army chief by 2004.


Qazi Hussain Ahmed, chief of both the religious coalition and Jamaat-e-Islami, said that about 50 Jamaat-e-Islami legislators and provincial government ministers had given him their letters of resignation and he pressed other coalition members to do so.


He did not say when he would submit the letters to the government.


Musharraf, who seized power in a bloodless coup in 1999, had pledged to step down as chief of the powerful army by the end of 2004 and become a civilian president.


But he has failed to honour that promise and even indicated in a May 18 television interview that he may seek re-election as army chief by the current Parliament before its term expires in 2007.


The existing Parliament is dominated by supporters of Musharraf.

Source: Canadian Press

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