‘Musharraf won’t quit or seek trust vote’

August 6th, 2008 - 5:00 pm ICT by IANS  

A file-photo of Pervez Musharraf
By Muhammad Najeeb
Islamabad, Aug 6 (IANS) digging in his heels, beleaguered Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf has decided against resigning or seeking a trust vote from parliament, a source close to the presidency said Wednesday. “He is an elected president and will continue to stay in office until his term ends or parliament takes any decision against him,” the source told IANS.

On Tuesday the two major parties in the coalition government - the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) and Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) - had decided to remove Musharraf by asking him to take a vote of confidence from parliament.

The ruling coalition has a majority in the National Assembly and Senate and is confident that Musharraf will not be able to secure a vote of confidence and will thus have to resign.

“There is no law that requires president to take a vote of confidence. He is an elected president and can only be removed through an act of parliament,” said the source, adding the PPP was aware of the consequences of impeaching Musharraf and hence “will never take such an irresponsible step”.

A transcript of Tuesday’s meeting leaked to the media quotes PPP co-chair Asif Ali Zardari as saying that the government will ask Musharraf to take a trust vote that will pave the way for his ouster from office.

Removing Musharraf is one of PML-N chief Nawaz Sharif’s two major demands to continue in the coalition. He is also asking for the restoration of judges Musharraf sacked last November when he imposed an emergency in the country.

Musharraf, as the army chief, had toppled Sharif’s elected government in October 1999 and a year later sent him and his entire family into exile to Saudi Arabia. Sharif returned in November last year to lead his party in the February general elections.

The source said that the president, who has cancelled his scheduled visit to China for the Aug 8 inaugural of the Olympic Games, is “very angry” over Zardari’s reported statement and will “face and respond to any extreme action through legal means”.

Under the constitution, Musharraf can suspend parliament and can remove the government.

“Obviously, he can take any step that is in accordance with the law,” said the source when asked if president will take the extreme step of suspending parliament.

The PPP’s assassinated chairperson Benazir Bhutto, her widower Zardari and several other leaders were allowed to return to the country under the National Reconciliation Ordinance (NRO) Musharraf promulgated to provide amnesty against the corruption cases against them pending in the courts.

“The presidency and PPP had reached an understanding that Musharraf will continue in office in return for giving amnesty to the PPP leaders,” the source pointed out.

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