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Army renews Pervez support

Islamabad, June 1 (Reuters): Pakistan’s military top brass reaffirmed its support for President Pervez Musharraf today amid a deepening political crisis triggered by his move to dismiss the country’s top judge.

The suspension of Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry has turned into the most serious challenge so far to Musharraf’s authority, sparking a campaign by lawyers and Opposition parties for the restoration of full democracy in the country.

The scale of the brewing crisis drew a strongly worded statement of support from the country’s top generals, not only for Musharraf’s presidency, but also for his dual role as Chief of Army Staff (COAS).

“The participants reiterated support for the pivotal role of the President and COAS in the ongoing reform process,” read the statement issued after Musharraf chaired a meeting of Corps Commanders at General Headquarters in Rawalpindi.

The statement also alluded to the mounting dissent, describing it as a “malicious campaign against institutions of the state, launched by vested interests and opportunists”.

“Any attempt by a small minority to obstruct the aspirations of (the) vast majority would only derail the nation from its path of progress and prosperity,” the military said in a statement, adding that the army was committed to helping Musharraf build a progressive, moderate Islamic state.

Musharraf, who seized power in a bloodless military coup in 1999, will seek a second five-year term as President later this year.

He aims to be re-elected by the current assemblies before they are dissolved in November ahead of general elections. Political analysts suspect he also wants to remain army chief, although he should give up the dual role by the end of this year.

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