Opposition parties reject civilian President Musharraf

Islamabad, Nov 29 (IANS) Leading political parties in Pakistan, including those of former prime ministers Benazir Bhutto and Nawaz Sharif, have rejected Pervez Musharraf’s swearing in as civilian president saying his future would be determined by the new parliament after the Jan 8 polls.

“The new parliament will determine his future, he will have to take confidence of the new parliament,” Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) spokesperson Farhatullah Babar told IANS after Musharraf took oath as civilian president, a day after stepping down as army chief.

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According to Babar, Musharraf’s taking oath as a civilian was a “welcome step” but had come “very late” and only the new parliament would decide on his future. On PPP chief Benazir Bhutto’s expected meeting with Musharraf, Babar said it has not been planned.

Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) leader Qazi Hussain Ahmed termed Msuharraf’s oath taking as unconstitutional saying, “we reject him as president”. He told reporters in Lahore that the Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal, of which JI is a member with five other religious parties, would never give a vote of confidence to Musharraf.

The former army chief, who stepped down Wednesday after ruling the country for eight years in uniform, got elected last month in a controversial presidential poll that was challenged in the Supreme Court.

The apex court judges, hearing the case, were sacked by Musharraf after the Nov 3 emergency and instead judges loyal to him were appointed. Last week, they ruled in Musharraf’s favour.

Ahsan Iqbal, spokesperson for Nawaz Sharif’s Pakistan Muslim League, termed the swearing in as totally illegal and unconstitutional. “We do not accept him as constitutional president,” he said. However Sharif, who returned to the country last Sunday after seven years in exile, has fielded his party candidates for the forthcoming elections.

Meanwhile, the political parties that ran the government for five years under Musharraf from November 2002, have welcomed Musharraf becoming the head of state in civvies.

“This is a historic moment, a military ruler saying goodbye to the army and becoming a civilian ruler, we should respect him,” former minister Awais Leghari told IANS. He said that under Musharraf the country would be better placed and political parties would perform better.

Chief of the former ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid-e-Azam (PML-Q) party Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain told state-run Pakistan Television that the country has progressed during the Musharraf era and would move ahead under his “able leadership”.