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Pak oppostion split on resignations

Hectic behind-the-scenes political activity is being witnessed in Pak as opposition lawmakers threaten to resign from parliament on the day Musharraf files his nomination papers.

world Updated: Oct 03, 2007 19:58 IST
Kamal Siddiqi
Kamal Siddiqi
Hindustan Times

Hectic behind-the-scenes political activity is being witnessed in Pakistan as opposition lawmakers threaten to resign from parliament on the day General Pervez Musharraf files his nomination papers for the October 6 presidential elections.

The All-Parties Democratic Movement (APDM) has said that the decision of its MPs to resign from Parliament on September 29 was final. However, Benazir Bhutto’s Pakistan Peoples Party has decided not to comment on the issue while a key constituent of the APDM has disassociated itself from the resignation decision.

At the same time, a top aide of President Musharraf has flown to Dubai to hold what are being described as “last-minute talks” with Bhutto to try and conclude a “deal” ahead of general elections in the country.

Political analysts say that the decision of Bhutto to arrive in Pakistan on October 18 and the announcement of the presidential elections on October 6 was not without significance.

Equally significant is the announcement by Maulana Fazlur Rehman of the Jamiat-Ulema-e-Islam, a component party of the APDM, that his MPs would not tender their resignations. The government is trying to get both the PPP and the JUI on board, which will give President Musharraf the endorsement he needs to be re-elected President.

As things stand, while Musharraf can be elected with a majority in parliament, with or without the opposition parties, a total boycott of the presidential elections by opposition parties will be an embarrassment for the government.

Former Prime Minister Mir Zafarullah Jamali has said it was important for General Musharraf to get different political forces to participate in the electoral process so that his presidency can earn some legitimacy.

For its part, APDM and Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal (MMA) leader and Jamaat-e-Islami (Punjab) president, Liaquat Baloch, asserted that the decision to resign was final and “there was no room for revision”.

There is intense speculation as to what options will be open to President Musharraf following the Supreme Court decision on his holding of dual offices.

The general feeling is that the President will be allowed to go ahead with fighting the elections in uniform provided he resigns his military position once elected. If this happens, the proposed resignations by the APDM will come to naught.

First Published: Sep 22, 2007 22:00 IST