On Wednesday, the Musharraf government removed two senior officials in Pakistan's NWFP where an Islamist-led political formation passed the Sharia bill into law, officials said.
|Musharraf: Angry reaction|
"The chief secretary and inspector general of NWFP police have been asked to return to Islamabad," chairman of the National Reconstruction Bureau and central minister Daniyal Aziz said. "New officers will be taking charge in the province," he added.
Aziz described the removal of provincial Chief Secretary Shakeel Durrani and Inspector General of Police Saeed Khan as "completely under the law."
The reshuffle in the top bureaucracy sets the stage for a showdown between the federal government and the province, currently being ruled by the Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal (MMA), an alliance of six Islamist parties.
The federal government’s announcement came despite a warning by NWFP Chief Minister Akram Durrani that any administrative reshuffle would be a "violation" of the country's constitution.
The move seems to be a "reaction to the NWFP government's decision to introduce Sharia law" in the province, Durrani told reporters.
Reacting to the Musharraf government move MMA parliamentary leader Hafiz Hussain Ahmed said: “The government after pelting stones on us should not expect flowers in return.”
The reaction to what the federal government was doing in the NWFP would be felt at the centre, he warned.
The changes follow criticism over recent rampaging by MMA supporters in the provincial capital Peshawar in a campaign against "obscenity" during which they tore down offensive billboards.
|Durrani says he will fight back|
Musicians and dancers have been driven from the province as police enforced unofficial bans on music and performance. Mobs pulled out cassette players from buses and trashed music shops.
Dominated by the six-party Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal (MMA), the NWFP administration on Monday adopted a bill declaring Sharia as the supreme law in the province which borders Afghanistan.
The MMA, which also shares power with the ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid (PML-Q) of Prime Minister Zafarullah Jamali in the province of southwestern Balochistan, sits in opposition in the federal parliament.
The MMA had recently joined the main opposition Pakistan People's Party and the party of former premier Nawaz Sharif in demanding that Musharraf quit as army chief and submit to a normal presidential election.