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SC ‘black-&-white’ question for Pervez

Islamabad, Sept. 5 (PTI): The Pakistan supreme court today asked President Pervez Musharraf’s lawyer to find out when his term as President will expire, observing that “things should be in black and white”.

A seven-member bench headed by Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry asked Sharifuddin Pirzada to find out from Musharraf when his dual office period would come to an end and get back to the apex court.

The court sprang the poser while hearing a petition filed by the Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal chief, Qazi Hussain Ahmed, who challenged the Dual Office Act 2004 under which Musharraf was allowed to hold two positions.

One of the judges, Justice Faqir Muhammad Khokhar, said during the hearing that, in his opinion, the President could not hold two offices “after the period ends”.

Pirzada requested the court to grant him some time so that he can find the exact date when Musharraf’s term expires.

“Things should be in black and white, let the reply come,” the chief justice said. The court then adjourned the hearing till tomorrow.

Musharraf is planning to seek re-election between September 15 and October 15 amid mounting pressure on him to shed his uniform even as talks continue with former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto on a power-sharing deal.

Ahmed said Musharraf was no longer eligible to continue as army chief after turning 60 in August 2003.

He said the President broke a public pledge in 2004 by not giving up his military post.

The general could not himself extend his tenure , the Qazi said.

Just when Musharraf's term ends is now almost a controversy. The government says his term as President and army chief expires on December 31, but he must seek re-election at least 90 days before that.

However, his opponents say Musharraf took over as President in June 2000 and later got himself elected. Therefore, he has already completed his five-year term.

Earlier, the apex court asked Pirzada if he wanted to file a rejoinder to the petition or seek instructions.

Pirzada replied that he did not want to file any rejoinder but would take instructions about the question asked by the court.

Jamat counsel Akram Sheikh argued that the Office Act 2004 be declared as malafide and unconstitutional as it is discriminatory. By holding another post, the President was violating the Constitution, Sheikh said.

He argued that the office of the President is vacant and President Musharraf is only a de facto holder as he is not an elected President.

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