Pakistan Army backs Musharraf, urges harmony among leaders

March 7th, 2008 - 2:29 am ICT by admin  

A file-photo of Benazir Bhutto
Islamabad, March 7 (DPA) The Pakistani Army has reiterated support for the embattled President Pervez Mushrraf despite his political allies’ rout in last month’s parliamentary election. A false impression was being created about “distancing of the army from the president,” army chief General Pervez Kiyani told a Corps Commanders’ conference in the garrison city of Rawalpindi Thursday.

A statement from the military’s Inter Services Public Relations department said: “Kiyani was optimistic that there would be a harmonized relationship between various pillars of the state, as provided in the constitution, in order to maximize national effort.”

Pakistan’s armed forces have been giving unrelenting support to former army chief Mushrraf since he took over in a bloodless coup in 1999. But things have changed since late last year when the president doffed his military uniform amid increasing international pressure.

Some local media reports suggested that Kiyani had recently pressed Musharraf for resigning from the post following the defeat of his supporters - but he dispelled the impression.

“Highlighting the need for understanding, Kiyani pointed out that any kind of schism, at any level, under the circumstances would not be in the larger interest of the nation,” the statement said.

The army fully stood behind the democratic process and was committed to play its constitutional role in support of the elected government, it added.

Mushrraf’s main political backer, Pakistan Muslim Leagues-Quaid (PML-Q), gained only distant third position in the Feb 18 general elections in which slain former prime minister Benazir Bhutto’s Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) emerged as the largest party.

Getting short of majority seats in the parliament, the PPP has been forced to form a coalition with the runner up, Pakistan Muslim League’s faction headed by the former prime minister Nawaz Sharif.

Ousted in 1999 by Musharraf, opposition leader Sharif has demanded immediate resignation from the retired general.

He has also called for the restoration of the former chief justice Iftikhar Chaudhry and around 60 other senior judges who were removed under an emergency order Nov 3 by the president in a bid to prevent the judiciary from disqualifying him for the next presidential term on the grounds that a serving military official was ineligible for contesting elections.

Musharraf has seen a sharp decline in his popularity since he proclaimed the emergency.

The opposition parties were set to announce their candidate for premiership at the weekend. The fate of the controversial president would lie in the hands of the incoming parliament, which has the authority to impeach him and throw him out of the power.

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