Many Pakistanis have lost faith in Musharraf: Time

Islamabad, Sept 23 : Pakistan President General Pervez Musharraf’s undertaking to the Supreme Court that if re-elected by the Parliament, he would step down as Army Chief before being sworn in on November 15, is a promise that rings hollow to some, and one that has been heard before.

According to an article in the Time magazine, some lawyers and analysts see the promise as an attempt to pre-empt an apex court decision declaring him ineligible to run for President.

Aryn Baker writes that many have lost faith in Musharraf, as in 2002 also Musharraf had promised to step down as Army Chief in exchange for an one-time exemption to the Article 63 of the Constitution, which said candidates for elected office, among other things, must have been retired from the military for at least two years.

"It's (Musharraf’s promise) a joke, nobody believes It," Ayesha Tammy Haq, a lawyer and a prominent political talk show host, was quoted as saying. "If he takes off his uniform he is nothing. The subtext here is, 'You elect me President, or it's martial law.' "

Recalling Railways Minister Sheikh Rashid’s statement at a press conference that "If the opposition adopts an extremist policy (by resigning from parliament over Musharraf's bid to be re-elected in uniform), it could lead to extreme decisions (by the government), which could be unfortunate for the country," the article says the threat of martial law has been made explicit by this.

He adds that this threat certainly gives parliamentarians, politicians and Supreme Court justices pause to consider whether a weakened, but still functioning, constitutional democracy may be preferable.

However, Baker writes, Musharraf may be restrained from the martial law option by its potentially devastating consequences, as it would force those looking to unseat him to take to the streets and confront the state, and if that forced the military to fire upon fellow Muslims, nothing would make Osama bin Laden happier, as the al Qaeda chief has already said that Musharraf's government and soldiers were "all accomplices in spilling the blood of those of the Muslims who have been killed" during July's siege against the militant Red Mosque in Islamabad. (With inputs from ANI)

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