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US senator calls on Musharraf to resign from Pakistan presidency

[JURIST] Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf [official website; JURIST news archive] should resign from office immediately, US Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) [official website] said in a statement released on Monday. The same day that Pakistan's Punjab Provincial Assembly [official website] voted [JURIST report] to ask Musharraf to resign or face possible impeachment by the country's parliament, Harkin said [text]:

Members of Pakistan's Punjab province local assembly's vote today continues to pressure President Musharraf to leave office. In the coming days, other provinces will have their say through a process of non-binding votes. I urge all political parties not to lose sight of the impact on the Pakistani people - long-standing friends of the Americans.

Today in Pakistan, the judges removed by Musharraf have yet to be restored, inflation is at an all time high and clashes occur frequently in tribal areas between Pakistan forces and 'Taliban' insurgents. One thing is for certain: it is time for the violence, blood shed and fear to cease and the confidence of the Pakistani
people to be restored.

In order to re-establish the rule of law, return the High Court judges to their official posts and get back to solving the day-to-day challenges of the Pakistani people, President Musharraf should strongly take into consideration the will of the Pakistani people and step-down. There are significant challenges that the leaders of Pakistan must confront in order to ensure the most basic needs for the people of Pakistan, and President Musharraf no longer seems to enjoy the confidence of the Pakistani people that will be necessary to move the country forward.

I have great respect, admiration and affection for the Pakistani people. I have spoken out many times in the US Senate for closer ties between the people of the US and the people of Pakistan. I count among my friends and leaders in different Pakistani political parties. My hope is for a better life for all Pakistani people, under a rule of law, in free, open, democratic society.
Of the Punjab Provincial Assembly's 371 members, 321 voted for the impeachment motion, including the majority of Musharraf's own Pakistan Muslim League-Q [party website] party. In response to the vote and impeachment plans [JURIST report] led by the country's coalition government, Musharraf stated he will fight the allegations of wrongdoing and asserted that the Pakistan People's Party (PPP) simply wants to impose their rule [PTI reports] over his own. ANI has more.

Last week, Musharraf affirmed his June vow [Dawn report] that he will neither step down nor go into exile, despite the recent pressure from opposition forces. Also last week, Pakistan's coalition government said that it would push to impeach Musharraf [JURIST report], a move that would require the endorsement of two-thirds of legislators in a joint session of parliament. The Pakistan People's Party (PPP) and coalition partner Pakistan Muslim League - Nawaz (PML-N) officials have disagreed [JURIST report] on how to limit or amend Musharraf's powers, with the PML-N generally favoring resignation or impeachment and the PPP favoring working with Musharraf to improve the country's political system. PPP leaders took a tougher stance in June, stating that Musharraf was only president by default and warning that if he did not step down, the parliament would impeach him [The News report]. Also in June, PML-N leader and former Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif [JURIST news archive] called for Musharraf to be tried for treason [JURIST report], saying he should be punished for the "damage" that he has done to the country in the years since he led a military coup [BBC backgrounder] and unseated Sharif in 1999.

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