Rebellion roar in Pakistan

10 03 2009

Source: Telegraph India

Islamabad, March 9 (PTI): Pakistan today warned former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif that his anti-government speeches amounted to sedition, shortly after he openly asked Pakistanis to rebel.
With the standoff between the government and the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) chief showing no signs of easing, the army got the backing of former President Pervez Musharraf to deal with the crisis.
“If the country faced an internal threat to its integrity, it is the responsibility of the army to protect it,” Musharraf told reporters in Karachi shortly after returning from India. The former general said he would consider becoming President again if he could play a useful role in the post. “If I am offered the post of President and if I can be a useful President… then I will want to contribute to this country,” he said.
Sharif stepped up his offensive against President Zardari ahead of protests by his supporters and lawyers. He asked policemen at a charged rally in Jhelum not to abide by any illegal and unconstitutional orders of the government. Sharif urged the people to take to the streets and get ready for a “revolution”.
The Asia Times Online website (www.atimes.com) said the army may be forced to intervene into the government’s affairs. It quoted army chief General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani as asking Zardari to quickly end the standoff with Sharif by March 16.
After Sharif’s rallying cry, interior security minister Rehman Malik said in a televised news conference in Islamabad: “Inciting people for disobedience is sedition. … It could get life imprisonment and a fine.”
Malik said the government would not outlaw the march but said the protesters would not be allowed to rally in front of the parliament building or other downtown areas, as they are planning.
He suggested they protest in a park on the outskirts of the Islamabad.
The protesters have said the march will be peaceful, but that they will not leave streets close to the parliament until the judges are restored. Sharif’s supporters say that the judges were sacked as they had planned to take up cases that could weaken Zardari’s already shaky grip on power.
Referring to Sharif’s comments against the government after the supreme court banned Sharif and his brother and former Punjab chief minister Shabaz from contesting elections, Malik urged the former Prime Minister to hold talks with Zardari.
At a news conference in Karachi, Musharraf, who resigned as President in August last year to avoid impeachment by the Pakistan People’s Party-led government, said he had no plans to join any party.
“In the current environment, I have no intention of joining politics. Frankly, I haven’t given any serious thought to joining politics,” he said in response to a question.

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