News of Pervez Musharraf’s resignation as president has been welcomed as a step in the right direction for Pakistan by Birmingham’s Pakistani community.
Mr Musharraf has ruled the nation under a military dictatorship for nearly a decade since assuming power in a bloodless coup in 1999.
In recent years, however, his regime has attracted increasing criticism, particularly since the sacking of Pakistan’s chief justice and 60 of the country’s top judges last year to stop any legal objection to his re-election as president.
His critics had threatened to impeach him for violating the constitution and gross misconduct.
Pervaiz Khan, of the Birmingham South Asian Alliance, said: “It is good that he is no longer the president because he was not elected by the people of Pakistan. But the key thing now is that the people who are going to take over need to have fair and clear elections.
“It is better to have a messed up democracy than a dictatorship which at least allows people to have some say in what is happening to them.”
Mr Khan said there was still a “long way to go in Pakistan” in terms of eradicating poverty and corruption and enabling freedom of expression to flourish.
“Just by him stepping down doesn’t solve the problem of the Pakistani people,” he added.
“But Pakistani people now know it is possible to bring about change.”
Mr Khan claimed the mounting pressure from Pakistan’s governing coalition that led to Mr Musharraf’s resignation would have been sanctioned by the US, which has been a key strategic ally to the country.
“Pakistani politics is run as much from Washington as it is from Islamabad,” he added.
Arif Mahmood, consul general of the Pakistani High Commission in Birmingham, added: “We wish good luck to Pakistan and hope and pray Pakistan will emerge stronger as a result of this.
“We have a huge Pakistani community here and they will have mixed feelings. The good thing is the country is progressing to democracy and the rule of law.”