Saturday, June 23, 2001, Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

Musharraf to hold office for 5 years

Islamabad, June 22
The Pakistan Government indicated today that Gen Pervez Musharraf would remain President for a period of five years, media reports said.

“The tenure is well defined for the office of the President. It is very clear,” Defence spokesman and Press Secretary to General Musharraf, Gen Rashid Qureshi was quoted by the local daily “The News” as saying.

The “clarification” of the tenure came after General Musharraf’s self-appointment was challenged in the Sindh and Lahore High Courts yesterday, questioning the constitutional validity of his takeover.

General Qureshi’s statement clearly indicated that General Musharraf was thinking of completing his own fresh tenure as President and would not merely complete the remaining term of ousted President Rafiq Tarar, the daily said.

The confusion about General Musharraf’s tenure followed the order issued by the military ruler himself which stated that “the Chief Executive shall hold the office as President until his successor enters upon office”. The order left the tenure and the duration wide open.

Asked whether President Musharraf would seek a vote of confidence from the newly elected Parliament after elections in October 2002, General Qureshi said: “We will cross that bridge when we get to it.’’

General Qureshi’s statement meant that though General Musharraf had promised to hold poll by October, 2002, as mandated by the Supreme Court, the wording of his order, “until his next successor is appointed” leaves his options wide open.

The News, quoting analysts, said the obvious interpretation which the government would give to General Musharraf’s oath as President would be for a five-year term but the matter would ultimately have to be decided by the higher courts as it is most likely to be challenged by the Opposition.

It said constitutional experts were not clear how the courts would judge the oath since it had been administered by the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, Mr Justice Irshad Hasan Khan, who had also agreed to become acting President, whenever General Musharraf is out of the country.

The first opportunity for Mr Justice Khan to become acting President would be when General Musharraf visits New Delhi on July 14 for a summit meeting with Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee.

Meanwhile, General Musharraf’s takeover has been challenged in the two high courts.

In Karachi, his appointment was challenged by senior lawyer, Sohail Hammed who questioned the constitutional status of the military ruler as President. The application cites the President of Pakistan as respondent. The petition would come up for hearing on June 28.

A similar petition was filed in the Lahore High Court by the secretary of the People’s Lawyers Forum, Mian Hanif Tahir. The petitioner prayed the court to declare the act of assumption of constitutional post of President of Pakistan as without lawful authority, void and of no legal effect. PTI


General’s elevation challenged
Muhammad Najeeb

Islamabad, June 22
The military ruler, Gen Pervez Musharraf’s decision to appoint himself President of Pakistan has been challenged in court by a senior lawyer on the grounds that it is unconstitutional.

Mian Muhammad Hanif Tahir contended in his petition to the Lahore High Court that General Musharraf’s move was unconstitutional because only a person eligible to become a member of Parliament could be elected President.

The lawyer also said a President could only be elected by Parliament and no government servant could aspire for the office unless two years had elapsed after his retirement.

He argued that Mr Rafiq Tarar, who had to step down to make way for General Musharraf as President, was a constitutional head who could be removed only through impeachment procedures laid down by the Constitution. Therefore, his removal under a provisional constitution order (PCO) was without any legal authority, and hence liable to be set aside.

The petitioner contended that General Musharraf’s appointment as President was different from that of Gen Ayub Khan and of Gen Yahya Khan. He said the previous generals had ascended to the post after repealing the Constitution, whereas General Musharraf’s move had come when a part of the Constitution had been suspended.

He also submitted that Supreme Court Chief Justice Irshad Hassan by administering oath to an “unconstitutional President,” had brought a bad name to the country.

Legal experts say General Musharraf’s appointment is a violation of the Supreme Court order that had validated the October 12, 1999, military takeover for three years.

“Legally speaking, the old version of the PCO (October 14, 1999) will continue to hold ground and the amended version of the PCO would be construed as a deviation from a validated document,” says legal expert Zahoor Hussain.

The experts say the PCO for removing an elected President and empowering the general to hold dual charge as Head of State and Chief Executive defies the apex court’s judgment of May 12, 2000.

While interpreting the introduction of the term “Chief Executive” in the context of the 1973 Constitution, the Supreme Court verdict on military takeover had put “Chief Executive Gen Pervez Musharraf” on a par with an elected Prime Minister.

The experts say the amended PCO is invalid, as the government should have first approached the Supreme Court for its fresh validation.

Meanwhile, according to a report from New Delhi, Pakistan’s Jamaat-e-Islami chief Qazi Hussain Ahmed has described as “unconstitutional” the elevation of General Musharraf to the post of President, and said his party would use all possible means to fight for the restoration of democracy.

In an interview with, Mr Qazi termed the General’s elevation to presidency as an unconstitutional act and vowed to launch a movement against General Mushrraf, stating that “mosques and madarsas will be used to mobilise public opinion against the General. 

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