Pakistan’s ruling party vows to slash Musharraf’s authority (Lead)

June 8th, 2008 - 7:05 pm ICT by IANS  

A file-photo of Pervez Musharraf
Islamabad, June 8 (DPA) Pakistan’s ruling party has said it will pursue the proposed constitutional amendments to curb the powers of President Pervez Musharraf, who can also be sent home democratically, media reports said Sunday. Musharraf, who is braving calls to step down since he lost his political support in the Feb 18 vote, Saturday said he had no plans to resign now, and invited his opponents to remove him through impeachment in the parliament.

The governing Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) of slain former prime minister Benazir Bhutto said in a statement that it would go ahead with the constitutional reform package that aimed at “restoring the balance of power” between the presidency and the parliament.

“The parliament, as representing the will of the people, was sovereign that could make or amend laws and the constitution regardless of whether Musharraf liked or not,” the PPP said.

Musharraf, who took over in a bloodless military coup in 1999, at present has the authority to dismiss the government, but he said Saturday that “only an unstable man would do this”.

However, interpreting the president’s remarks that he would “not sit idle” as a note of caution about possible showdown, the PPP said: “Such hollow warnings would not deter the democratic forces from restoring the powers of the parliament.”

Pakistan’s two main coalition partners, the PPP that is now led by Bhutto’s widower Asif Zardari, and the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), whose government was overthrown by Musharraf eight years ago, claim to have the required two-thirds majority in both houses of the parliament to impeach the president and curtail his power.

Though the PPP intends to make Musharraf walk away by creating a situation unacceptable to him, the PML-N appears determined to put the president in the dock.

“We are constantly urging our coalition partners to make an early move to oust Musharraf whose presence … is disaster for the democratic order,” PML-N spokesman Ahsan Iqbal was quoted as saying by English-language Dawn newspaper.

Musharraf saw a plunge in his popularity after he suspended the country’s independent-minded top judge Iftikhar Chaudhry in March 2007 over charges of abuse of authority.

Chaudhry was reinstated after four months, but he was again sacked when Musharraf proclaimed emergency rule Nov 3 last year, reportedly to avoid a Supreme Court decision against his controversial re-election for another five-year term.

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