Islamabad, Jan.29 : Lieutenant-General (Retired) Faiz Ali Chishti , the president of the Pakistan Ex-Servicemen Society, has said that he would not be surprised if some one told him that President Pervez Musharraf had engineered terror attacks to manipulate his image in the West. "Musharraf is an intellectually dishonest person. He is a clever ruler, who makes the US and the West believe that they can only effectively deal with Al-Qaeda as long as he is in power. But what is Al-Qaeda and who are Taliban? I will not be surprised if this clever ruler is behind all suicide attacks," a foreign news agency quoted Lt. Gen. Chishti, as saying. According to The Nation, Musharraf, who seized power in a coup in 1999, has rejected those claims, and last week angrily brushed aside the calls for his resignation by Gen Chishti and the other generals.
"They are insignificant personalities. Most of them are ones who served under me and I kicked them out... They are insignificant. I am not even bothered by them," the paper quoted Musharraf as telling the Financial Times in Davos, Switzerland, last week. But Lt.Gen. Chishti, a former federal minister and the one-time corps commander for Rawalpindi, urged current and former servicemen to push for change.
"My request as head of the society, is that retired General Pervez Musharraf should also step down as President. We request all ex-servicemen and even those, who are in uniform to vote for persons, who are fit to do something for this country and people," the paper quoted him, as saying. Lt. Gen Chishti himself is no stranger to military rulers, having supervised the imposition of Martial Law in July 1977 in the country. He went on to become a close associate of late dictator General Zia-ul-Haq.
He claims that the situation now was different, partly because of Musharraf's close ties to Washington. "Musharraf is in league with the US and the West for the sake of his own survival. The majority of Pakistanis feel he... has been taking illegal, unconstitutional and unlawful actions for his survival," Lt.Gen. Chishti said.
Lt. Gen.Chishti also accused Musharraf of "taking sides" and campaigning for the former ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Q ahead of the elections on February 18.
The government, meanwhile, has rejected the ex-servicemen's claims.
Information Minister Nisar Memon told state media that their demands for Musharraf to resign were unconstitutional, adding that he was "dismayed" by their "lack of understanding of national issues."