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Musharraf to doff uniform after re-election
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14:28, September 18, 2007

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Pakistani President General Pervez Musharraf will doff uniform after re-election, his lawyer told the Supreme Court on Tuesday.

General Musharraf's term as President expires on Nov. 15, government lawyer Sharifuddin Pirzada told the court, which is hearing petitions to challenge two offices of General Musharraf.

Pirzada said Musharraf will relinquish charge of army chief if he re-elected in the coming presidential election, which officials said will be held by Oct. 15.

The nine-member bench of the apex court was told Tuesday that General Musharraf will file nomination papers with the Election Commission after schedule for presidential polls is announced.

The statement of Pirzada has now made it clear that General Musharraf will take part in presidential elections while remaining Chief of Army Staff, the country's top military leader.

Local analysts believed that it has also been made clear that President Musharraf intends to re-elect himself from the present parliament and provincial assemblies, whose current term will expire in mid-October.

Major opposition parties, the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) of Benazir Bhutto and Muslim League-N of Nawaz Sharif, rejected the government lawyer statement on General Mushararf's re-election plan.

"General Musharraf is not qualified to contest Presidential elections in uniform," the PML-N acting chief Raja Zafar-ul-Haq said in his reaction.

He said no government servant can hold any public office for two years after his or her retirement.

"So he is not qualified to submit nomination papers," Haq said.

Referring to the lawyer's statement, leader of the Opposition in the Senate and PPP leader Raza Rabbani said that the law does not allow uniformed man to contest election to the office of the President.

He said, "General Musharraf plan to re-elect himself from the present assemblies is also contrary to law as term of the present assemblies expire by Oct. 15."

"How can those assembles elect a man for five year when their own time expires in few weeks," Rabbani said.

Pakistani Minister for Railways Sheikh Rashid Ahmed said the parliament under an act in 2004 had allowed General Musharraf to hold two offices till Nov. 15.

"So President Musharraf can take part in elections in uniform," Rashid said.

Pakistan's Election Commission has recently amended an article of the Constitution which bars an already government office holder from contesting for a parliament membership or doing that within two years following his retirement from the office.

This rule change, which means General Musharraf is allowed to stand in Presidential elections even in uniform, has sparked criticism among opposition parties.

The opposition alliance All Pakistan Democratic Movement (APDM) announced on Sunday that their lawmakers will quit assemblies if nomination papers of President Musharraf were accepted by the Election Commission.

The alliance also decided that they would also withdraw from governments in North West Frontier Province and southwest province Baluchistan as protest against General Musharraf's bid for re- election.

Source: Xinhua

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