Bush to Musharraf: 'You can't be president and head of the military'
Pakistan's Bhutto threatens 'long march' amid military rule
In a "frank discussion" on Wednesday over the telephone, U.S. President George W. Bush asked his Pakistani counterpart to quit his role as army chief and restore democracy to Pakistan.
"You can't be the president and the head of the military at the same time," Bush said Wednesday, describing to reporters his phone conversation with Pakistani President Gen. Pervez Musharraf.
"I had a very frank discussion with him," Bush said.
Bush's remarks came as Pakistani police fired tear gas and swung batons Wednesday at a peaceful protest in Islamabad that included many supporters of former prime minister Benazir Bhutto, not long after she outlined her demands for the country's military government.
Several hundred protesters, mostly Bhutto supporters, gathered outside Parliament House, pushing against police barricades, but were dispersed within minutes by police, CBC reporter Adrienne Arsenault said.
Bhutto's supporters spilled out of cars leaving her earlier news conference where she had spoken of her desire for people to demonstrate in the streets against the emergency rule imposed by Musharraf since Saturday.
Officers beat several activists who broke through and dragged at least three away from the scene, the Associated Press reported.
Earlier in the day, Bhutto told reporters at the nearby headquarters of her Pakistan Peoples Party that opposition supporters will begin a long march from Lahore on Nov. 13 unless Musharraf meets their demands.
Protests, march planned
Bhutto also vowed that her party will go ahead with a planned protest on Friday in Rawalpindi, a garrison city south of Islamabad, despite warnings of a strong threat of a suicide attack against her and threats by police to stop the rally.
Protests until now have been primarily attended by lawyers and human rights activists. Friday's planned protest will mark the first time opposition parties have mobilized supporters to join the demonstrations.
Arsenault said the inclusion of Bhutto supporters at Wednesday's rally and another Islamabad protest by lawyers that involved students on the same day is evidence of protests gradually widening.
In an interview with CBC News, Pakistani deputy information minister Tariq Azeem said he hoped the rallies would not become larger and warned that if that did happen, it could have dangerous consequences.
"Just recall what happened on the 18th of October when she arrived in Karachi with the big rally they had arranged," Azeem said, referring to last month's bomb attack targeting Bhutto that killed 140 people.
Demands for Musharraf to quit army
He said the deadly bombing only underscored the need for Musharraf to declare a state of emergency and suspend the constitution on Saturday.
"For her own safety and the safety of the people, we have said there won't be any more rallies, there won't be any more protest marches until things settle down," Azeem said.
The ban on political demonstrations is one of the many restrictions under the state of emergency rule, which also includes censorship of media and the suspension of the Pakistani Constitution. The government said 2,500 people have been detained since emergency rule began, but political opponents say that figure is closer to 3,500.
Among Bhutto's demands on Wednesday was for the government to free the detained, some of whom are judges, lawyers and human-rights activists.
She also called for Musharraf to announce an election schedule before Nov. 15 and to quit his powerful role as chief of the army.
"If demands are not met by Nov. 9, we'll start a long march from Lahore on Nov. 13, and then we will stage a sit-in in Islamabad," Bhutto said after meeting with other opposition parties.
With files from the Associated Press