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Pak Parliament opens debate on Musharraf confidence vote

IRNA

Islamabad, Dec 26, IRNA - A bill was introduced in the Pakistani 
parliament on Friday, which calls vote of confidence in President 
General Pervez Musharraf. 
The constitutional amendment was brought before the National 
Assembly, lower house of the parliament to cement the deal, signed 
this week between the government and Islamists after General Musharraf
agreed to step down as military head next year. 
President Musharraf will also give up some of the powers he 
assumed after his bloodless coup in 1999. 
The bill was introduced in the National Assembly amidst protest 
and walkout by the opposition members. 
The hardline Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal (MMA) Islamic coalition this 
time did not join the major opposition alliance in the protest in the 
parliament. 
Initiating the debate, opposition member of Peoples Party Chaudhry
Aitzaz Ahsan said the amending Bill as introduced shows that the 
Islamists have accepted General Musharraf amendments, known as Legal 
Framework Order (LFO) as part of the constitution. 
Under the agreement, General Musharraf remains as president but 
will have to seek Supreme Court approval if he wants to sack the 
government. 
President Musharraf will not step down as head of the armed forces
until the end of next year. 
It was in a referendum in April 2002 that President Musharraf 
secured a new five-year term. 
In August of that year he introduced sweeping laws known as the 
Legal Framework Order to strengthen his position. 
He gave himself the power to dismiss the national assembly at his 
discretion, a power withdrawn by the government of the previous prime 
minister, Nawaz Sharif. 
President Musharraf was also able to choose the heads of 
Pakistan`s army and navy. 
A National Security Council was also set up to monitor 
governments. 
The reforms were intended to show a move towards democracy, and 
parliament convened for the first time in three years in November 
2002, following elections the previous month. 
However, many members of parliament opposed the new powers, 
calling them deeply undemocratic. 
The MMA has since virtually paralysed parliamentary proceedings 
over the stand-off. 
TK/TSH/211 
End 



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