Rally insists Musharraf quit army post

Islamic parties have staged a rally in central Pakistan to press President Pervez Musharraf to quit as army chief.

    Opposition parties have united to confront General Musharraf

    Sunday's rally comes days after a law was passed allowing him to keep

    his civilian and military roles.

    Thousands of people chanted anti-US and anti-Musharraf slogans

    at the protest in Multan, witnesses said, following the president's

    apparent breaking of a promise to hang up his uniform at the end of

    the year.

    The rally, the second in a series of four, was organised by the

    six-party Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal Islamic alliance and was also

    attended by leaders of the parties of former prime ministers Benazir

    Bhutto and Nawaz Sharif.

    The campaign against Musharraf began last week with a big

    demonstration in Pakistan's largest city, Karachi.

    Broken promise?

    Rallies are also

    planned in eastern Lahore and finally in Rawalpindi, which adjoins

    Islamabad, on 19 December.

    "I have no doubt in my mind that people will force Musharraf to

    quit as army chief by the end of month," the Islamic bloc's chief,

    Qazi Hussain Ahmad, told supporters.

    Musharraf overthrew the elected
    Pakistani government in 1999

    "If he does not quit one post, I am confident that he will lose

    both."

    Pakistan's parliament enacted a bill on Tuesday allowing Musharraf

    to remain army chief, less than 12 months after he said he would become a

    civilian leader by the end of 2004.

    Ironically, his pledge was part of a deal with the Muttahida

    Majlis-e-Amal in return for its support for constitutional

    amendments that validated his presidency and gave him sweeping

    powers, including the ability to dismiss parliament.

    Army coup

    Musharraf has since said he needs to keep the army post

    to continue fighting "terrorism" and seek a settlement with

    India over the Kashmir dispute.

    The new law puts no time limit on how long Musharraf can hold

    both posts although his term as president is meant to end in 2007.

    Musharraf took power in a bloodless coup on 12 October 1999

    when he overthrew democratically elected prime minister Nawaz

    Sharif.

    He appointed himself president in June 2001.

    SOURCE: AFP


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