Imran Khan calls on president to resign

2013-01-15 18:53
Former cricketer and chairperson of Pakistan's political party Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf Imran Khan. (File, AFP)

Former cricketer and chairperson of Pakistan's political party Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf Imran Khan. (File, AFP)

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Lahore - Pakistani opposition politician Imran Khan called on Tuesday on President Asif Ali Zardari to resign immediately to make way for free and fair elections.

Khan, a former cricket star who captained Pakistan to world cup victory in 1992, has no seat in parliament but has helped to set the political agenda by campaigning on a ticket of reform before elections scheduled by mid-May.

"President Asif Ali Zardari should resign immediately. He cannot hold free and fair elections because he is holding two offices," Khan told a news conference in the eastern city of Lahore.

Khan was referring to Zardari's role as head of state and chairperson of the main ruling Pakistan People's Party.

His call came after the Supreme Court issued an order for the arrest of the prime minister over corruption allegations, and as 25 000 people took part in the largest political protest in Islamabad since Zardari's government took office.

"The government should immediately announce new elections and should also announce a date for it," Khan said. "Change is not possible without holding of free and fair elections."

As things stand, the government has said it will disband parliament only in mid-March at the end of its mandate, after which elections would have to be held by mid-May.

Cleric Tahir-ul Qadri is demanding that a caretaker government be set up immediately, in consultation with the military and the judiciary, and that it implement key reforms before elections are held.

His demands are seen by critics as a ploy by elements of the establishment, particularly the armed forces, to delay the elections and sow political chaos in a country that was ruled by the military for decades.

Khan has not backed calls for judiciary and military intervention in the caretaker administration. He said it should be created "with mutual consensus and should consist of neutral people".

Read more on:    imran khan  |  asif ali zardari  |  pakistan
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