Gen Musharraf 'to quit as Pakistan army chief'
By Isambard Wilkinson in Islamabad
Pakistan's president, Gen Pervez Musharraf, has given the clearest indication to date that he plans to step down as army chief if he is re-elected next month.
"We expect that after his re-election process next month, God willing, General Musharraf would take his oath of office as a civilian president before November 15," said senator Mushahid Hussain Sayed, secretary-general of the ruling Pakistan Muslim League.
Gen Musharraf's current term as president expires on Nov 15.
"Yes, I have no doubt that the president will keep his commitment," said Mr Sayed, who recently met with the general.
Gen Musharraf's intention to become a civilian leader, removing a key objection to his proposed re-election in October, was announced as the supreme court began hearing petitions questioning the general's eligibility as a presidential candidate.
advertisementGen Musharraf, a key all in the US-led war on terror, has reneged on previous pledges to resign the post of army chief since he seized power in a military coup in 1999.
But the embattled president has been weakened by his failed attempt to sack the head of the judiciary and he is under pressure from Britain and Americas to reach a power-sharing agreement with the exiled former prime minister, Benazir Bhutto.
Ms Bhutto, who has insisted that Gen Musharraf becomes a civilian president, announced last week that she will return to Pakistan on Oct 18, ending more than eight years of self-exile.
Gen Musharraf’s immediate political future is at the mercy of the supreme court with whom he clashed over his attempted dismissal of the chief justice.
The legal challenges come just days before military ruler Musharraf is expected to file his nomination papers for a parliamentary ballot - due before Oct 15 - for another five-year term.
The petitions have been filed by the fundamentalist Jamaat-e-Islami party, the outspoken cricketer-turned-politician Imran Khan and an association of pro-democracy lawyers.
The court will also question Pakistan's election commission declaration at the weekend that it had amended rules restricting public servants - such as army chief Musharraf - from standing in polls unless they have been retired from their jobs for two years.
If the court rules that the general is not eligible to stand for president even as a civilian he may have no further option than to quit or impose a state of emergency.
An alliance of opposition parties has threatened to resign from parliament if Musharraf went ahead with his plans.
A walk-out would not affect the election but it would dent its credibility.
Gen Musharraf 'to quit as Pakistan army chief' - Telegraph