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President Musharraf stalls China trip

world Updated: Aug 07, 2008 13:03 IST
Kamal Siddiqi
Kamal Siddiqi
Hindustan Times
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In a day of flip-flops, Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf on Wednesday decided to go ahead with his visit to China to attend the opening ceremony of the Olympics Games, hours after abruptly cancelling his scheduled departure to Beijing amid political efforts to impeach him.

The Foreign Office initially announced that Musharraf had cancelled his scheduled visit on Tuesday morning due to “developments at home”.

Later in the day, its spokesman Mohammad Sadiq said the President has decided to attend the opening ceremony of the Beijing Olympics “in view of our special relations with China”.

Sources earlier said Musharraf had deferred his visit after top leaders of the Pakistan People’s Party-led coalition, Asif Zardari and Nawaz Sharif, agreed in principle to impeach him.

Meanwhile, Musharraf met his close constitutional and legal advisers at his camp office in Rawalpindi to discuss a strategy to counter any move to impeach him. He vowed to use all his constitutional powers to thwart efforts to remove him from office after the ruling coalition closed ranks on his possible impeachment. Warning that any move to impeach him could “destabilise the country”, 64-year-old Musharraf, told leaders of his ally PML(Q) that he would continue to play his constitutional role as the head of state.

The sources said the decision to explore ways to impeach Musharraf was taken during a meeting on Tuesday between PPP Chairman Asif Ali Zardari and PML-N chief Nawaz Sharif.

PPP Chairman Zardari and PML-N chief Sharif held further discussions on the issue on Wednesday but were tight-lipped about the parleys. Leaders of both parties merely said they had reached consensus on key issues and a final decision would be taken after consulting other allies of the coalition, including the Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam, Awami National Party and parliamentarians from the tribal areas.

Eight Sindh HC judges reinstated

Musharraf on Wednesday approved reinstatement of eight deposed judges of the Sindh High Court but the province’s sacked Chief Justice, a critic of the former military ruler, was not among them.

The Law Ministry had recommended that the eight judges, who were among those sacked by Musharraf during last year’s emergency rule, should be re-appointed and sent a summary or official notification in this regard to the Presidency.

However, sacked Chief Justice of Sindh High Court, Sabihuddin Ahmed, a critic of Musharraf, was not among the judges who were restored.

Pak puts move to rein in spies on ice

Pakistan’s four-month-old civilian government has suspended a decree issued last month to put the military’s powerful and controversial spy agency under Interior Ministry control. Feared by neighbouring Afghanistan and India, and reportedly mistrusted by the United States despite its help fighting Al Qaeda, the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) agency also has a reputation for destabilising past civilian governments.

Late last month the government issued a decree putting the ISI and its civilian cousin, the Intelligence Bureau, under the purview of the Interior Ministry.

The government rolled back a day later by saying the move had been “misinterpreted”. Without withdrawing the decree, it said a new, more detailed one would follow. It issued a statement on Tuesday saying the July 26 decree was now held in “abeyance”, pending consultations with various branches of Pakistan’s intelligence network. “PM is pleased to direct that the federal government will carry out further deliberation on coordinating the intelligence efforts.”

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