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Feb 02, 2008
Key aide says Musharraf may quit if opponents win polls
ISLAMABAD: A key member of the presidential camp on Friday conceded that President Musharraf might quit if the people voted for the political parties opposed to him in the Feb 18 elections.
“Obviously, he (Musharraf) is not as strong as he was before,” the presidential camp source said in response to a question from this correspondent, adding that after he removed his uniform in November, Musharraf had become a “simple president”.
When his attention was drawn to the mounting pressure on Musharraf to quit and asked if the president had devised any immediate exit strategy which might include any major decision before the elections, he said, “No, not at all.”
To another question, he said that after the Feb 18 elections, the president would make his critical decisions if anti-Musharraf forces returned to power. Of late, the demand for President Musharraf’s resignation is mounting from different segments of the society, including politicians, lawyers, intelligentsia, top religious scholars and even Musharraf’s ex-servicemen colleagues.
About the prospects of the restoration of the deposed judges, the demand for which has become louder, the presidential camp is showing no flexibility but an aide said that only a parliament with a two-third majority could undo the Nov 3 actions.
The source acknowledged that the Nov 3 emergency and actions taken thereafter were done under the extra-constitutional powers and insisted that those actions did not need indemnity from a two-third majority in the next parliament.
He admitted that over 50 judges of the superior judiciary were sacked unconstitutionally but argued that their reinstatement would require a two-third majority in the next parliament. President Musharraf himself had also conceded that the Nov 3 action was extra-constitutional. Later, after the Supreme Court, which took oath under the PCO, validated the president’s controversial actions, the presidential camp and its legal aides contended that these actions did not need protection and the amendments made to the Constitution after Nov 3 was part of the Constitution.
Others, however, disagree and insist that it is only parliament that can amend the Constitution or indemnify the unconstitutional steps taken on and after Nov 3. The dominant majority of lawyers and even political leaders like Nawaz Sharif, Qazi Hussain Ahmad and Imran Khan have already said that the post-Nov 3 actions were unconstitutional. Nawaz Sharif has even said that if the PML-N returns to power, its first executive order would be relating to the restoration of the deposed judges.
The source at the presidency assured that the elections would be held in a fair, free and independent manner and there would be no rigging as apprehended by the major opposition parties and others.
“I can assure you that the elections would be the fairest in the history of Pakistan,” the president’s man claimed, arguing that it was not possible to rig the general elections and change the ballot boxes.
Regarding demands for fair and free elections, he said demands like the change of the chief election commissioner could not be fulfilled unless he was removed through the Supreme Judicial Council.
The source said those demanding the appointment of Justice (retd) Rana Bhagwandas as the election commissioner to ensure holding of fair and free elections should understand that the election commissioner could not be changed through an executive order but only through the procedure prescribed by the Constitution.
In addition to politicians, ex-servicemen have also started demanding that after the resignation of the president, Bhagwandas should be appointed as the election commissioner. The ex-servicemen have also sought restoration of the judges, a demand strongly opposed by President Musharraf.
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