RAWALPINDI, Jan 22: A number of retired chiefs of the army, air force and navy and dozens of former commanders and some retired junior commissioned officers on Tuesday called upon President Gen (retd) Pervez Musharraf to step down as head of the state to pave way for complete restoration of democracy in the country.

Organised by what is known as the Pakistan Ex-Servicemen Society, an organisation originally set up for the welfare of retired service personnel, the forum held a meeting at a local hotel to allow the participants to vent their views on the current political situation, with specific reference to Gen Musharraf’s role.

The media was kept away from the meeting and later a four-point resolution issued in the evening, primarily blamed President Musharraf for the prevailing crisis.

The resolution stated that “Gen Pervez Musharraf retired does not represent the unity and the symbol of the Federation as President,” and “he should resign from his office of the president, and this is in the supreme national interest and makes it incumbent on him to step down”.

The resolution also called for setting up, in consultation with political leaders, of impartial, credible and unblemished teams of governments both at the centre and in the provinces, which should enjoy the confidence of the nation to hold elections. An impartial, effective, independent and credible Election Commission be appointed with the approval of all major political parties.

The meeting appreciated the reported orders of the Chief of the Army Staff, Gen Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, to all serving officers to abstain from taking any part in political activities and promoting any politicians or political parties and to confine themselves to their professional duties.

Spearheaded by Lt-Gen (retd) Faiz Ali Chishti, once a key member of Gen Zia-ul-Haq’s martial law regime, the ex-servicemen society has lately been quite active against Gen Musharraf. Tuesday’s gathering was its biggest show so far. It was attended by those who have been known critics of Gen Musharraf mainly because of his support for the US-led war against terror or for his liberal reforms, and also by moderate ex-servicemen who have been opposed to both the former military rulers as well as Gen Musharraf.

The participants included people like former army chief Gen (retd) Mirza Aslam Beg, former ISI chief Lt-Gen (retd) Hamid Gul and Lt-Gen Chishti. There also were known moderates like two former air marshals, Asghar Khan and Nur Khan, and Air Chief Marshal (retd) Pervez Mehdi. According to a list issued by the organisers, the participants included Admiral (retd) Karamat Rehman Niazi, Admiral (retd) Iftikhar Ahmad Sirohey, Admiral (retd) Mohammad Sharif, Admiral (retd) Saeed M. Khan, Admiral (retd) Hasan Asif, Admiral (retd) Obaid Sadiq and Lt-Gen (retd) Ali Kuli Khan.

The list also included names of Vice Admiral (retd) Mohammad Fazil Janjua, Vice Admiral (retd) Jawaid Iqbal, Rear Admiral (retd) Javed Iftikhar, Lt-Gen (retd) Jamshed Gulzar, Lt-Gen (retd) K. K. Afridi, Lt-Gen (retd) Talat Masood, Lt.-Gen (retd) Kamal Matin, Lt-Gen (retd) Asad Durrani, Lt-Gen (retd) Zakir Ali Zaidi, Lt-Gen (retd) Aslam Shah, Lt-Gen (retd) Farrukh, Lt-Gen (retd) Qadir Baloch, Lt-Gen (retd) Hamid Niaz, Lt-Gen (retd) Javed Ashraf Qazi, Lt-Gen (retd) Ayaz Ahmed, Major-Gen (retd) Saeed-ud-Din Qazi, Major-Gen (retd) Shafiq Ahmed, Major-Gen (retd) S. M. K. Askari, Major-Gen (retd) Islamullah, Major-Gen (retd) Zia-ul-Haq, Major-Gen (retd) Agha Manzoor, Major-Gen (retd) A. A. Zubairi, Major-Gen (retd) Shabbir H. Shah, Major-Gen (retd) Utra, Major-Gen (retd) H. U. K. Niazi; Major-Gen (retd) Arshid; Major-Gen (retd) Afzal Samad, Brig (retd) Tipu Sultan, Brig (retd) Amir Gulistan Janjua, Brig (retd) Nusrat Jahan Saleem and Col (retd) S. K. Tressler.

However, one of the participants told Dawn that the list was flawed as some of the people named as participants were not there. Perhaps the most surprising name in the list was that of former ISI chief Lt-Gen (retd) Javed Ashraf Qazi, who had been key aide of Gen Musharraf and a minister in his government . “He was definitely not there,” said the participant. And after checking with a few other people who had attended the meeting, he said neither Lt-Gen (retd) Farrukh was there, nor was Lt-Gen (retd) Qadir Baloch.

Another participant also confirmed that three people were not there, and though some of the known critics of President Musharraf were there, he said it was possible that a few other names mentioned in the list also did not attend the meeting .

Lt-Gen (retd) Chishti was not available for comment on the anomalies in the list of the participants.

Copy of the resolution delivered to media after the meeting says the extra-ordinary meeting was held on the specific request of members of the society who have been watching the turning events of the recent past with great concern and anguish and felt that they could not remain only bystanders but would like to stand and be counted with all patriots and motivated sections of the society imbued with the spirit of securing the future of the country.

It claimed that over 100 ex-servicemen from all over Pakistan and Azad Kashmir comprising all ranks of the three services actively participated in the deliberations of the extra-ordinary meeting of their Society to analyse the prevailing conditions in the country with a view to determining as to what requires to be done by the ex-servicemen.



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