Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

SLUG: 2-304548 Pakistan / Constitution (L)








INTRO: Opposition parties in Pakistan say they are filing a no-confidence motion against the Parliament's speaker, the latest in their moves to break the deadlock in the nation's constitutional crisis. V-O-A's Michael Kitchen reports from our regional bureau in Hong Kong, that the opposition in Pakistan is growing impatient since the government has so far refused to discuss changes it made to constitution.

TEXT: Opposition members in Pakistan's National Assembly say the government is refusing to hold talks on controversial changes to the constitution, made last year by President Pervez Musharraf.

The opposition refuses to accept these amendments, which widen the president's power and give him the right to dismiss Parliament. They also oppose Mr. Musharraf serving concurrently as both president and head of the Army.

After staging a walkout protest in Parliament earlier this month, the opposition now wants to oust the National Assembly's speaker for having voiced support for President Musharraf's constitutional amendments.

Opposition National Assembly member Aitzaz Ahsan (AYT-zaz AH-san) says the ruling party is refusing to negotiate on the issue.

/// AHSAN ACT 1 ///

We've been waiting since the 23rd of May for the prime minister to take the next step. On the contrary, the government has gone belligerent -- it's gone ballistic.

/// END ACT ///

Many political observers note the opposition moves are mostly symbolic since President Musharraf's party holds a majority in parliament.

But Mr. Ahsan says if the government continues to ignore constitutional concerns, the opposition might try to mobilize the public and seek street protests to force the issue.

/// AHSAN ACT 2 ///

Bringing them out on the street is an open issue that we will debate and we will decide in due course. After all, these are hot summer months also. So, those decisions will be taken by the joint opposition at the proper time.

/// END ACT ///

President Musharraf has said he would eventually concede to opposition demands and resign from his post as military chief, but has refused to offer a timetable for the move. The ruling party, meanwhile, says Parliament should not challenge the revised constitution since lawmakers were elected under the rules of that constitution. (Signed)


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