Sunday, April 18, 2004

Hopefully a civil war is not going to start in Pakistan at the end of the year. They definitely have WMD, and whoever controls the military controls them. He's wavered a couple of times on this issue. This is from the Daily Times of Pakistan.

Musharraf will step down as Army chief, says Rashid

ISLAMABAD: Information Minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmed on Thursday reiterated that President Gen Pervez Musharraf would step down as army chief at the end of the year as promised.

“He will stand by his commitment according to the 17th Amendment, by which he said he would hold only one portfolio,” Mr Ahmed said.

Musharraf, who took power in a bloodless coup in 1999, promised to retire as head of the army by the end of 2004, paving the way for him to stay on as a civilian president. But when asked in an interview with the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) whether he would heed calls from supporters to stay on in uniform, Musharraf said: “We have to wait and see.”

Musharraf made a deal in late December with a coalition of hardline religious parties — the Mutahida Majlis-e-Amal, or MMA — to amend Pakistan’s constitution to give him extraordinary powers, including the right to dissolve parliament and sack the prime minister. .

In return, Musharraf agreed to the religious coalition’s main demand: that he resign as Army chief, which is the source of most of his power, by December 31, 2004. But in the BBC interview, Musharraf accused the MMA coalition of reneging on an agreement to support him in a vote of confidence in January and the creation of a new National Security Council, approved by Parliament this week.

“I am certainly cheesed off with the MMA’s attitudes after the agreements that we have reached with them,” the president said. “They are going back on their word.” Recently, Defence Minister Rao Sikandar Iqbal called for Musharraf to stay on as army chief, saying if he steps down it could cause political instability.

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