|Rediff India Abroad Home | All the sections|
Pakistan slams ICG for demanding Musharraf step down
Rezaul H Laskar in Islamabad | January 05, 2008 18:35 IST
Pakistan on Saturday reacted angrily to an international think-tank's demand for president Pervez Musharraf's [Images] resignation ahead of the general election, saying it was tantamount to 'sedition' and meddling in the country's democratic process.
The International Crisis Group, a Brussels-based think tank, had in a report issued on Wednesday said, "Unless Musharraf steps down, tensions in the wake of Benazir Bhutto's [Images] murder will worsen, and Pakistan could descend into civil war from which only extremists would gain".
Reacting angrily to the report, the Pakistan government said, "The ICG neither has the credentials nor the credibility and lacks representational standing, especially on Pakistan's national affairs".
"Urging the president of Pakistan to quit and the United States to encourage the Pakistan military leadership to persuade the president to resign is tantamount to propagating seditious views against the laws of the country," a government spokesman said in a statement issued on Friday.
He said that under the constitution, the president is the supreme commander of the armed forces and comments such as those released to the media by the ICG amounts to 'promoting sedition'.
The spokesman rejected the report, terming it 'patently biased and reflective of a complete lack of understanding and appreciation of the environment and ground realities in Pakistan'.
Commenting on the report, the spokesman regretted that the ICG was 'attempting to meddle' in the democratic process of Pakistan while sitting thousands of miles away.
Sedition is a very serious offence in Pakistan, but the spokesman did not say whether the government intended to take action against the ICG.
The ICG's report titled 'After Bhutto's Murder: A Way Forward For Pakistan' also said that after Musharraf's resignation, senate chairman Mohammedmian Soomro, who is currently the caretaker prime minister, should take over as acting president.
It also called for the appointment of neutral caretaker governments at the national and provincial levels with the consensus of major political parties and the reconstitution of the election commission.
The poll panel has postponed the parliamentary polls from January 8 to February 18 in the wake of the violent protests that erupted after the assassination of former prime minister Bhutto on December 27.
The ICG also demanded the full restoration of the constitution, including an independent judiciary and constitutionally guaranteed fundamental freedoms of speech, assembly and association, and safeguards against illegal arrest and detention.