96pc people want me as COAS: President

Posted in Broader Middle East | 07-Sep-04 | Source: dawn.com (Pakistan)

A Pakistani boy walks past a billboard featuring a picture of Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf with the national flag in Islamabad.
ISLAMABAD, Sept 6: President Pervez Musharraf on Monday said the vast majority of Pakistanis do not want him to quit the post of the army chief and become a civilian ruler.

"You should go and ask the people, 96 per cent will say 'should not shed' the uniform," General Musharraf, who has held the dual posts of army chief and president since June 2001, told a private television channel.

Gen Musharraf has agreed to give up his military uniform by Dec 31 under a deal with a powerful religious political alliance. In return, the alliance supported a parliamentary vote to approve controversial changes to the Constitution which empowered the president to sack the government and dissolve elected parliament.

The president said on Monday he would make his decision about stepping down from the army on the constitution, popular demand and national stability. "On shedding the military uniform or not, I will take a decision according to the constitution," he said.

"If there is need for my (being in) uniform, I will take a decision at that time." The constitution was amended after his pledge to include a clause stating that he would quit the army by 2004 and no longer hold two posts.

The religious political alliance contested Musharraf's wavering, saying he had no choice under the amended constitution. "Musharraf is bound to retire as army chief by Dec 31, 2004," spokesman Shahid Shamsi said. "This was very clear from the negotiations held last year." -AFP