MMA calls black day on Jan 1

Published December 20, 2004

RAWALPINDI, Dec 19: Muttahida Majlis-i-Amal (MMA) chief Qazi Hussain Ahmed on Sunday termed President Gen Pervez Musharraf a 'security risk' for the country and urged opposition parties to join hands against the 'dictatorship'.

Speaking at a public meeting against Gen Musharraf's decision to remain in uniform beyond Dec 31, Qazi Hussain exhorted MMA workers and the masses to support the alliance's call for nation wide protests on Dec 24 and a black day on January 1.

An estimated 5,000 people attended the meeting held despite heavy downpour. This was the fourth and the last of MMA's planned series of rallies. The Leader of Opposition in the National Assembly and JUI-F chief, Maulana Fazlur Rehman, was conspicuous by his absence from the meeting. The organizers did not give any reason for this.

The MMA president described the uniform as a source of all ills. He said that national institutions like judiciary and parliament were crumbling, the economic situation was deteriorating rapidly, the constitution had been altered and the nuclear programme was in unsafe hands.

Qazi Hussain, who also heads Jamaat-i-Islami, alleged that the president was distorting the teachings of Islam and had embarked on an agenda to make the country secular. This, he claimed, was in conformity with the US plans to make Pakistani people adopt Western values and abandon Islamic tenets.

He referred to the setting up of the Aga Khan education board and said it was a move in that direction and called upon people to reject it. He dismissed claims of Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz about a booming economy with growing foreign exchange reserves and said that in fact there was a trade deficit of $5 billion. He claimed that Mr Aziz would attempt to meet this deficit by causing more pain to the poor.

He said the president's foreign policy initiatives were aimed at pleasing his 'masters'. The 'options' on Kashmir were presented in accordance with the wishes of the Indian leadership and "he has now offered his services to solve the Palestine issue in keeping with the US plans," Qazi Hussain said.

He said Gen Musharraf made the army fight against its own people because of US backing. Tehrik-i-Insaaf chairman Imran Khan asked political forces not to strike a deal with President Musharraf and strive for independence of judiciary and election commission and an independent economic system.

Mr Khan said in his brief speech that everyday new theories were being coined against Muslims to belittle them in the eyes of the world. However, he said, all this was false and anyone who had read the Holy Quran knew that a Muslim could not be an extremist or a fundamentalist.

The PTI chairman said those being labelled terrorists were actually resisting foreign occupation of their homeland. About the US support for Gen Musharraf retaining the offices of the president and the COAS, Mr Khan said the US always had a preference for dictators because they were easy to manipulate.

Disputing the government claim that uniform was not an issue for the masses, he said it was an important issue because people were concerned about national security, the rising graph of poverty, falling living standards and relations with India and the US.

"They can't remain aloof from these issues which are very much their own," he added. MMA's Liaquat Baloch said the nation loved Islam and would not accept hegemony of the US or a military dictator.

Hafiz Hussain Ahmed said the religious parties would use all options and all forms of protests to force the president to doff his uniform. People had started arriving at the Liaquat Bagh after midday braving the rains. No key leader of the ARD participated in the meeting.

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