Pakistan president to stay army chief

Pakistan's parliament has passed a bill allowing President Pervez Musharraf to remain as army chief, despite his earlier promise to step down from the post.

    Musharraf had earlier promised to step down from the post

    The bill was passed on Thursday with a simple majority in the National Assembly of Pakistan after a day of debate.

    Opposition lawmakers opposed the move, saying it would give the president too much power and that it violated the constitution.

    "The government decided to move the bill in the assembly to bring stability and ensure a smooth continuation of democracy," Minister of Parliamentary Affairs Shir Afghan said. 

    He added that the bill's passage should end all debate as to whether the president, who seized power in a bloodless coup in 1999, would also remain army chief. 

    Strengthening the fight

    A spokesman for the ruling party, Tariq Azim Khan, said the bill would "strengthen our drive and commitment in the fight against terrorism". 

    "The government decided to move the bill in the assembly to bring stability and ensure a smooth continuation of democracy"

    Shir Afghan, minister of parliamentary affairs

    In a deal with parliament's Islamic opposition last year, Musharraf pledged to step down as army chief in return for their support of constitutional amendments to boost the power of the presidency, including the ability to dismiss parliament and the prime minister, who runs day-to-day affairs of the state. 

    During debate about the bill on Thursday, opposition lawmakers beat their desks, crowded the speaker's dais and chanted anti-Musharraf slogans of "Go, Musharraf, go!" and "No, Musharraf, no!" 

    "We reject this law," said Sadiq al-Faruq, spokesman for the main opposition Pakistan Muslim League Party, after it was passed. 

    He said the bill would in effect keep the country under military rule. He vowed to "launch a movement" to end this.

    SOURCE: Agencies


    YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

    'We scoured for days without sleeping, just clothes on our backs'

    'We scoured for days without sleeping, just clothes on our backs'

    The Philippines’ Typhoon Haiyan was the strongest storm ever to make landfall. Five years on, we revisit this story.

    How Moscow lost Riyadh in 1938

    How Moscow lost Riyadh in 1938

    Russian-Saudi relations could be very different today, if Stalin hadn't killed the Soviet ambassador to Saudi Arabia.

    Daughters of al-Shabab

    Daughters of al-Shabab

    What draws Kenyan women to join al-Shabab and what challenges are they facing when they return to their communities?