ISLAMABAD, Jan 31: An association of retired military officers on Thursday urged President Pervez Musharraf to step down and hand over power to Justice Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry.

Reading out the resolutions unanimously adopted at a meeting of the Ex-Servicemen’s Society, Air Marshal (retd) Asghar Khan said Justice Iftikhar was still the Chief Justice of Pakistan.

He said that after taking over as the president Justice Iftikhar should form a neutral interim government to hold credible election in consultation with the mainstream political parties. He said the current set-up was an extension of the PML-Q government.

He said the Election Commission should be reconstituted and the name of Justice Rana Bhagwandas should be considered for the post of chief election commissioner.

The ex-servicemen demanded that nuclear scientist Dr A.Q. Khan should be freed or tried.

Hundreds of ex-servicemen attending the meeting loudly said ‘no’ when the name of Gen (retd) Abdul Majid Malik was proposed as a member of a committee to chalk out a course of action. They demanded that he should resign from the PML-Q. The committee comprises former chief of army staff Mirza Aslam Beg, Gen (retd) Talat Masood, Gen (retd) Hameed Gul, Gen (retd) Jamshed Gulzar Kiani and Vice-Admiral (retd) Tasneem.

Air Marshal Asghar Khan said he had not met any ex-serviceman who did not agree with the opinion that Gen (retd) Musharraf must quit as president. However, everyone of them did not say this openly keeping in view the possible consequences, he said.

He said continuation of President Musharraf’s rule was damaging the country. However, the society was yet to evolve a strategy to be followed if Gen (retd) Musharraf did not heed the ‘advice’, he said.

He said the society had no plan to contact Army chief Gen Ashfaq Parvez Kayani.

Answering a question, he said it was for the political parties to decide if President Musharraf should be tried for subverting the Constitution.

He said Gen (retd) Musharraf was never a representative head of state because a parliament which came into being as a result of massive rigging had installed him as president. He said the ‘rubber-stamp parliament’ had no authority to elect the president for the second term.

He said the society had not set any deadline for the president to step down.

He said President Musharraf had made some promises when he grabbed power and his seven-point agenda included accountability, but some corrupt people had served as ministers and enjoyed his patronage.

He said the agenda had also attracted his son late Omar Asghar Khan who had joined President Musharraf’s cabinet but quit it when the promises were not fulfilled.

Speaking at the meeting, Gen (retd) Beg said he received calls from leaders of seven countries, including the United States, after the society had passed a resolution urging President Musharraf to step down. He said the army’s image as an institution had to be improved and the president’s ouster from power was essential for it.

Admiral (retd) Sharif said fair election was impossible under President Musharraf’s rule.

Admiral (retd) Farooq Mirza said it was the duty of the Ex-Servicemen’s Society to ensure welfare of Gen (retd) Musharraf “that is why we are urging him to step down”.