Mush Prez till Nov 15
General Pervez Musharraf will continue to occupy the President’s office till November 15, 2007, and will remain as army chief till a new chief is appointed to replace him, lead attorney for the President, Syed Sharifuddin Pirzada, informed the Supreme Court today.
A seven-judge bench of the court headed by Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry heard the petition filed by Qazi Hussain Ahmed, chief of the MMA, challenging Musharraf’s eligibility to keep both offices at the same time.
On yet another day of confusion within government ranks, Attorney General Qayyum Malik sought one month’s time to answer court’s question as to when the presidential term would end.
When the court said it could only give him one week, Malik asked for 15 minutes to get instructions.
After the break, Malik gave a vague reply that he did not think the court question needed any answer because of its judgment in 2005 validating Musharraf’s dual offices.
He declined to appear on behalf of the court as amicus curie after which the court named lawyers S.M. Zafar, Aitzaz Ahsan Chaudhry and Abdul Hafeez Pirzada to assist it.
Malik reappeared in the court to inform that he was prepared to assist it but objected to the name of Aitzaz Ahsan, saying that his views were well known against Musharraf’s eligibility.
The court admitted MMA chief Qazi Hussain Ahmed’s petition on the subject for regular hearing and began proceedings during which Qazi’s counsel Akram Shaikh and government counsels Sharifuddin Pirzada and Qayyum Malik placed their formulations on the petitions.
Both Malik and Pirzada maintained that Musharraf was eligible to contest election for another five-year term as president with or without uniform. Akram Sheikh contested the contention while maintaining that exemption in case of Musharraf, if any, would end on November 15. The court adjourned the hearing till September 17.
Meanwhile, lawyers across the country observed a strike to launch the second phase of their movement to block Musharraf to continue as army chief and president.
They frustrated attempts to divide the community and beat up some pro-government lawyers, including Naved Khawaja in Karachi, who were opposing the strike.
Rallies were held in Islamabad, Lahore, Karachi, Quetta and other major towns and participants chanted “Go Musharraf, Go” and denounced any deal with him.