'Mush can continue as Army Chief after Nov 15'

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Islamabad, Oct 6: President Pervez Musharraf could continue as Army Chief beyond November 15 if the Constitutional petitions challenging his candidature continued beyond the cut-off date, Attorney General (AG) Malik Qayyum has said.

"Musharraf can continue as Chief of Army Staff beyond November 15 if the case lingers beyond the cut-off date. If the petitions are not decided by November 15 and notification of his election is not issued, he could continue with both offices," Malik Qayyum told reporters.

Qayyum said that Musharraf would live up to his promise to resign as Army Chief before taking oath for the next term.

"Today"s decision has also validated Musharraf"s election from the present assemblies," he argued.

He said that the presidential election would be held today, and expressed hope that Musharraf would get majority votes.

"The notification of results will remain a formality that will be completed in due time," he added.

Meanwhile, opposition party lawyers rejoiced at the 10-member Supreme Court bench"s decision to withhold the results of the presidential poll until the final decision of the case.

Government lawyers claimed victory because the court had allowed Musharraf to contest the presidential election from the current assemblies in uniform.

However, the opposition parties" lawyers termed the verdict a partial success, as the final decision rested with the court.

Justice (retired) Tariq Mehmood, leader of the lawyers" movement, said that the decision was satisfactory for now, as the court had ordered withholding of results thereby maintaining control over the final decision.

"Now Musharraf can be disqualified even if he gets 1,000 votes," the Daily Times quoted Mehmood, as saying.

He said four out of nine judges had decided against Musharraf"s election in the dual-office petitions, while the remaining five had not given their opinion on merit but rejected the petitions on grounds of maintainability.

"There will be no credibility and legitimacy of Musharraf"s election even if the court rules in his favour because four judges and several opposition parties have already ruled against him," Mehmood maintained.

Hamid Khan, the lead counsel for presidential hopeful Justice (r) Wajeedhuddin Ahmed, said it was a positive sign that the court had allowed the continuation of the electoral process but had withheld the counting of votes and notification of election until its final decision of the case.

"This is our initial success. Now we have to prove to the court that Musharraf is neither qualified for re-election, nor can the current assemblies elect him as President for next five years," he added.


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