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Musharraf seeks another term

Islamabad, Jan. 18 (PTI) President Pervez Musharraf appears set for a second five-year term as President after the Pakistan cabinet decided to seek his re-election by the national and provincial assemblies before they are dissolved in November.

Calling the move “unconstitutional, undemocratic and unethical”, Opposition parties vowed to prevent Musharraf’s re-election.

Hardline religious alliance Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal (MMA) leader Liaquat Baloch said: “We will make every effort to stop the re-election of Musharraf.”

Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) spokesman Farhatullah Babar said: “It is a mockery of democracy to say that a parliament in its dying days has the right to impose on the people a President for the next five years when it is not in place.”

Announcing the cabinet’s decision, information minister Mohammad Ali Durani said: “Hopefully, the present Assemblies will complete their term and since the tenure of the President expires on November 15, his re-election will be sought from the present Assemblies in accordance with constitutional provisions.”

However, Durani did not say whether Musharraf would also continue to hold the post of army chief. Baloch, a senior Jamat-e-Islami leader, said the government’s decision would bring Opposition parties closer for a joint struggle against dictatorship.

“The cabinet decision shows the country is not run by the cabinet but by agencies,” he said.

During the meeting which was chaired by Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz, the cabinet was briefed on constitutional and legal aspects of presidential elections by experts led by Aziz’s senior adviser Sharifuddin Pirzada, a Musharraf confidant. The Pakistan President’s current five-year term will end almost a week before the Assemblies complete their tenure on November 16, 2007.

“The cabinet was told that as per the constitution, the Assemblies would complete their term on November 16.

The President should be elected between September and October 2007 and the interim set-up will be put in place in line with the constitutional provisions,” Durani said. Musharraf’s re-election was discussed at a meeting of army commanders on Tuesday.

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