Friday, Aug 23, 2002
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By B. Muralidhar Reddy
Gen. Musharraf, is not merely convinced about the need for the changes in the Constitution he has introduced, but appears determined that the new Parliament does not tamper with them. This was evident from his responses at the news conference yesterday where he unveiled the package.
However, most of the parties see them as a switchover from the parliamentary to the presidential form of government and have vowed to `undo' them in the new Parliament expected to take shape after the October general election.
As things stand, the package of amendments could be one of the major election issues though Gen. Musharraf is not a candidate. While he sees the role of his Government as an objective facilitator in the transition from `democratic dictatorship to sustainable democracy', most of the parties view the elections as a battle against institutionalisation of the role of the Army in governance.
When a journalist wanted to know what would happen if the three mainstream parties the Pakistan Muslim League, Pakistan People's Party Parliamentarians and Muttahida Quami Movement manage to muster a majority in the new Parliament, he quipped "You are envisaging the worst scenario."
To another question on the possibility of the new Parliament overturning the amendments he had made, Gen. Musharraf said either he would have to go or the Parliament would stand dismissed.
Notwithstanding the powers Gen. Musharraf has vested himself with regard to dissolution of the National Assembly, all major political parties have not only attacked the package but vowed to roll them back in the new Parliament. These include the Pakistan People's Party, the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz, the Alliance for Restoration of Democracy and the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf. The only exception was the Pakistan Muslim League (Q) and the National Alliance, known as the King's parties for their proximity to the military regime.
A PPP spokesman said: "No individual has any right to make amendments in the Constitution as the Constitutional amendments can be made only by the elected Parliament in accordance with the procedure laid down in the Constitution itself. Any other procedure adopted for it is illegal and unconstitutional.''
The PPP, he said, believes that the regime despite its machinations and massive pre-poll rigging is mortally afraid of an assertive Parliament coming into being which will not accept the amendments being imposed unilaterally by the regime. "That is why it has resorted to massive emasculation of the Constitution to load the dice against civil society, political parties and the institutions of democracy,'' he added.
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