Musharraf brings up Kashmir in I-Day speech

13 August 2008
The Indian Express

Islamabad: In an apparent bid to divert attention away from the impeachment threat looming over him, Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf late on Wednesday condemned “human rights violations” in Jammu and Kashmir. In an address to the nation during the ‘Azadi Show’ event at the Presidency here on the eve of Pakistan’s Independence Day, Musharraf raked up the issue of the ongoing violence in Jammu and Kashmir that claimed several lives, whom he described as “martyrs”. “Every Pakistani is with our brothers and sisters in Srinagar. Kashmir beats in the heart of every Pakistani,” Musharraf said. Condemning “human rights violations” in Jammu and Kashmir, he said the recent violence over Amarnath land row also claimed the life of Hurriyat leader Sheikh Abdul Aziz. He also said there is a need to fight terrorism and stabilise the country’s economy. The country can fight terrorism if the people are united. Mushrraf’s speech seemed to be an apparent attempt to divert attention of his countrymen from the impeachment threat he was facing in Parliament. Earlier in the day, Pakistan was abuzz with speculation that Musharraf may resign to avert a showdown with the Government, which is all set to bring an impeachment motion that received the backing of the third provincial Assembly. The 65-year-old President kept up the suspense over his plans amid mixed signals ahead of his televised Independence Day address to the nation where he would make an “important” announcement. While his spokesman Rashid Qureshi has ruled out the possibility of Musharraf resigning and said he will face the impeachment motion in the National Assembly, his allies have hinted that he is ready to resign before the motion comes up next week. “If he resigns ahead of the impeachment motion being moved in parliament, the PPP-led ruling coalition will give him safe passage,” a senior leader of the opposition PML-Q was quoted as saying by The Daily Times newspaper. Stepping up its attack on Musharraf, ruling PPP chief declared that the President was a “guest for a few days” and was confident that the powerful army and the ISI will not interfere with the impeachment move. “The army belongs to me, the ISI belongs to me. We are the government in power. I am the people of Pakistan (and these institutions belong) to the people of Pakistan,” an aggressive Asif Ali Zardari said, adding as soon as the new President takes oath, he will abolish Article 58(2b) of Constitution that empowers the President to dissolve the Parliament. If the ruling coalition succeeds in getting two-thirds majority in a combined sitting of the National Assembly and the Senate to topple the President, it would be the first in Pakistan’s 61-year history.