Political observers in Pakistan believe that the army chief General Perwez Ashfaq Kayani’s comment that the army would stay out of politics was yet another indication that President Pervez Musharraf may soon step down.
General Kayani told corps commanders on Thursday that an impression was being created that there was a rift between the army and President Pervez Musharraf. He emphasised that it was untrue, adding “the army will not get involved in politics and will stay away from controversies”.
This is being interpreted as a signal that the army is distancing itself from the current controversy over convening the first post poll session of parliament which some politicians are saying is being “unnecessarily delayed by the President”.
Kayani in his address said he was optimistic that there would be a harmonious relationship between the various pillars of the Pakistani state, as envisaged in the constitution.
Earlier this week, President Musharraf in a meeting with Kayani had praised the role of the army in ensuring security during general elections. Seemingly it was a step by the army chief to show that the army was behind the president. But Thursday’s address by the army chief has put paid to that theory.
The meeting came after rumours surfaced that President Musharraf was about to resign. Officials have described all such rumours as “unfortunate”. Local media quoted a senior official as saying: “There is nothing like quitting, stepping down or leaving the country by the President.”
The rumours of Musharraf’s departure have also hit the stock market as business circles this might affect the relatively consistent economic policies that have been pursued in the past few years.
But there are others who argue that Musharraf’s resignation will actually help end the political uncertainty in the country. “The army chief and the Pakistan Peoples Party already enjoy a working relationship,” said a stock market analyst.