Oppn plans more rallies against Musharraf

Associated Press

Islamabad, January 2:

Radical Islamic groups in Pakistan said today they will stage new protests against President Gen Pervez Musharraf, who reneged on a pledge he made last year to step down as chief of the powerful army.

The opposition’s announcement came a day after hundreds of its supporters rallied in various cities to mark January 1 as “black day” to condemn Musharraf’s decision. “We demand that Musharraf resign because his position as president and army chief has become ontroversial,”

said Maulana Fazl-ur Rahman, a lawmaker and a senior figure in the six-party coalition of Islamic groups. “We demand that he step down to end the crisis and strengthen democracy,” Rahman told reporters after a meeting of senior leaders from the grouping known as Mutahida Majlis-e-Amal, or United Action Forum. Rahman said the first rally against Musharraf will be on Friday, and two others will be held later this month in different cities. In recent weeks, the alliance has held several demonstrations to pressure Musharraf to honor his pledge. Musharraf, a key ally of the United States in its war against terrorism, promised last year to relinquish the army job and become a civilian head of state by December 31, 2004.