Opposition challenges Musharraf's tenure as army chief
May 15, 2007 - 4:35:44 PM

Islamabad, May 15 - In a pincer move before the Supreme Court, Pakistan's opposition parties have challenged President Pervez Musharraf's tenure as the army chief, while seeking an inquiry into the 48 deaths in Karachi over the weekend.

Qazi Hussain Ahmad, chief of the Islamist opposition conglomerate Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal -, Monday filed a constitutional petition in the Supreme Court challenging Musharraf's tenure as army chief, which began in 1998.

Simultaneously, a pro-opposition lawyer Abdul Rehman Siddiqui filed another petition seeking an inquiry into the killings in Karachi, The Daily Times said Tuesday.

Ahmad, who is also chief of the Jamaat-e-Islami, filed the petition under Article 184- of the constitution and maintained that Musharraf attained the age of superannuation in August 2003 and should not have continued his army job thereafter.

He contended that the president had been violating the law and service rules by addressing public rallies.

Ahmad's counsel, Shaukat Siddiqui, filed the petition in which Musharraf, the Aiwan-e-Sadr secretary, the defence ministry and the Federation of Pakistan have been made respondents.

Meanwhile, Abdul Rehman Siddiqui said in his petition that the Sindh government had failed to protect the rights of the people of the province.

He has made the Federation of Pakistan, the Sindh chief secretary, Sindh Government Advisor Wasim Akhtar and Muttahida Qaumi Movement's self-exiled leader Altaf Hussain respondents in the petition, which seeks an immediate inquiry into the bloody violence in Karachi.

Musharraf, with or without uniform, has been a continuing theme of Pakistan's politics for the past eight years since he deposed elected prime minister Nawaz Sharif and took power in a bloodless coup.

Musharraf had promised to give up the army post when he sought election to the presidency in 2002. However, he has since said that he would decide when to shed his uniform, and that the timing would be determined by 'national interests'.

This remains Musharraf's line even as he seeks a second term in the presidency later this year, lasting till 2012. This has raised questions among his critics and security analysts about whether the Pakistan Army should have the same chief for 13 years.

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