Pakistan's President General Pervez Musharraf will resign as chief of the army staff if he wins presidency for the second term in the coming elections, his lawyer told the Supreme Court Tuesday.
In a written statement submitted to a nine-member bench headed Justice Rana Bhagwandas that is hearing six identical petitions against Musharraf for keeping two offices, his lawyer Sharifuddin Pirzada said that he would relinquish the post of the army chief after winning the presidential elections.
'If elected for the second term as president, Gen. Pervez Musharraf shall relinquish charge of the office of the chief of army staff soon after election, but before taking the oath of office of the president of Pakistan for the next term,' Pirzada said while reading the written statement in the court.
This is for the first time that any representative of the president has admitted that Musharraf plans to contest the elections while in uniform. Immediately after the statement was submitted television news channels started debating why the president wants to keep the army chief's office until his election.
The petitioners questioning the president before the court include Jamaat-e-Islami chief Qazi Hussain Ahmed and Tehrik-e-Insaaf chief Imran Khan.
The court has announced that it would continue hearing the petitions on a daily basis. The experts are of the opinion that the apex court may announce its decision by the end of next week.
Media reports said the Election Commission was asked by the government to announce the schedule for the president's election on Monday but it apparently refused to follow the instructions as the Supreme Court was hearing the case.
According to Pakistan's constitution, the election for the president should be held 'not before 60 days and not after 30 days' prior to the expiry of the term. Musharraf's current term as president expires on Nov 15, which means his elections should be held between Sep 15 and Oct 15.
The popularity of Musharraf, who came to power in a 1999 coup after deposing elected prime minister Nawaz Sharif, is going down since he sacked Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry earlier this year, who was later reinstated by the Supreme Court.
On Sep 10 Musharraf also sent Sharif back into forced exile after the former prime minister attempted to return to the country and launch a campaign against the president's re-election.
Musharraf, desperate to retain power, is also negotiating a power-sharing deal with another former prime minister Benazir Bhutto, who has announced that she will end her self-exile and return to the country on Oct 18.
Media reports say that the two have reached a 'deal' under which Bhutto's Pakistan People's Party (PPP) would not create any hindrances in Musharraf's re-election.
Last Mod: 18 Eylül 2007, 16:30