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Pak ex-officers want sacked CJI as prez
Rezaul H Laskar in Islamabad | January 31, 2008 19:58 IST
An influential group of former Pakistani military officers on Thursday asked President Pervez Musharraf [Images] to hand over power to sacked Chief Justice Iftikhar M Chaudhry and appoint another deposed judge Rana Bhagwandas as the chief election commissioner to ensure free and fair polls.
The group of former generals, admirals, air marshals and other officers, who met at a hotel in Islamabad, also decided to join the legal fraternity in a protest against Musharraf on February 5.
After lengthy deliberations on the situation in the country, the meeting chaired by Air Marshal (retired) Asghar Khan called on Musharraf to quit and hand over power to Chaudhry, who has been under house arrest since he was deposed by the president during last year's emergency rule.
The former military officers also said Musharraf should appoint Bhagwandas, the lone Hindu to reach the highest echelons of the Pakistani judiciary, as the chief election commissioner to ensure the holding of free and fair polls on February 18.
The meeting did not set any cut-off date for Musharraf to step down. The retired officers also did not respond to questions from reporters on whether they would contact army chief Gen Ashfaq Parvez Kayani or other serving officers to discuss their demands.
The officers also avoided responding to questions on whether they would apologise to the country for their role in politics under several military rulers, saying the meeting had not deliberated on such issues.
This was the second meeting of former military officers that has asked Musharraf to step down as president to pave the way restoring democracy.
Musharraf had reacted angrily to a similar demand last week from the Pakistan ex-servicemen society, saying it had been made by insignificant personalities whom he had kicked out of office.
Musharraf, who stepped down as army chief in November, and several of his close military aides were invited to the meeting but none of them attended.
The meeting also said that Pakistan's judiciary had been harmed a lot under Musharraf's rule and demanded the reinstatement of judges who were deposed during the emergency.
The meet was attended by former army chief Mirza Aslam Beg, Lt Gen Abdul Majid Malik, who was the staff officer of Field Marshal Ayub Khan, former Inter-Services Intelligence chief Lt Gen Hamid Gul, Lt Gen Jamshed Gulzar [Images] Kayani and Lt Gen Asad Durrani.