Islamabad, Nov. 1 (Reuters): Pakistan's Upper House of parliament or Senate passed a bill today to allow President Pervez Musharraf to stay on as army chief despite his pledge to give up the post by the end of the year.
The bill, passed on October 15 by the National Assembly, or lower house of parliament, now needs only to be signed by Musharraf to become law.
It was passed by a voice vote in the Senate, or upper house, amid noisy protests from the Opposition. It calls for the president to be allowed to hold two offices to facilitate the war on terror and safeguard Pakistan's territorial integrity.
Under a deal last year with the Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal Islamic opposition alliance, Musharraf pledged to stand down as army chief by December 31 in return for their support for constitutional changes that gave him sweeping powers to sack parliament and dismiss the government.
Musharraf has since dropped strong hints that he would renege on this promise, although he says he has not made a final decision.
Ruling party member S.M. Zafar, the main author of the constitutional amendments passed last December, has joined those critical of the dual-role bill. He said it was premature because Musharraf had not yet taken any decision on the issue.
Sharif skips funeral
Relatives of former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif attended his father's funeral in Pakistan today but Nawaz did not try to return from exile for the burial because the government set conditions, his family said.
Mian Mohammad Sharif, who died in the Saudi Arabian city of Jeddah on Friday, was buried at the family estate in Raiwind, 15 km from Lahore.
Government officials said Nawaz Sharif, who was forced into exile after being overthrown in a bloodless 1999 coup by President Pervez Musharraf, did not apply for permission to accompany his father's body back to Pakistan. However, Nawaz's brother Shahbaz contradicted this, saying he had refused to come back for the funeral after the government set conditions for their travel.