ISLAMABAD, Nov 15: President Gen Pervez Musharraf who as Chief of Army Staff promulgated the state of emergency and Provisional Constitution Order on November 3 has transferred the power of lifting the emergency to the office of president. He amended the PCO with the Provisional Constitution (Amendment) Order 2007, issued on Wednesday night.
The order comes into force at once and will be deemed to have taken effect on Nov 3, 2007.
“The importance of the amendment is that the power to lift the emergency now vested in the office of the president, Attorney General Malik Qayyum told Dawn on Thursday.
Political observers, however, say the amendment reflects Gen Musharraf’s desire to rule with the powers of emergency even after hanging up his uniform.
Mr Qayyum claimed that Gen Musharraf would quit his army post before December 1.
The notification about the amendment to the PCO reads: “The President may revoke the Proclamation of Emergency of the 3rd day of November, 2007, on such day as he may deem fit.”
To most people, the amendment only means that Gen Musharraf has transferred the power from himself to himself, as he currently holds both offices of the president and the army chief. However, legal experts say it is not so simple.
The attorney general said that since President Musharraf had imposed the emergency as the Chief of the Army Staff, he wanted to lift it himself as and when required after relinquishing the post of the army chief.
“It is very simple to understand that the president wants to keep this power of lifting the emergency with him when he will no more be the army chief,” Mr Qayyum said.
He said had there been no amendment to the PCO, the new army chief would have got the power of lifting the emergency.
“But now President Musharraf would himself decide about this issue,” he said.
In reply to a question, he said that generally anybody “who imposes the emergency, himself removes it, but now the situation is changing, keeping in view that the president is quitting as the COAS and, therefore, he wants to keep these powers with him,” he said.
He said the emergency was expected to be lifted within two months and that it had been imposed primarily to deal with terrorists who were fast becoming a threat even to settled areas.
“But if the opposition parties join hands, the emergency could perhaps be lifted before the general elections,” the attorney general said.
He said the government had been accused of proclaiming the emergency only to take action against judges of the superior courts.
“But that issue has gone,” he said, adding that emergency had been imposed to effectively get hold of terrorists and militants with a view to restoring law and order across the country, particularly in the NWFP.
The attorney general said that the president as the army chief had very reluctantly proclaimed the emergency and it was not targeted against the common man or civil society at large.
“I am sure as soon as the government accomplishes its objectives in the NWFP, the president will lift the emergency,” he said, adding that it was wrong to presume that that elections held under emergency would be rigged as was being alleged by opposition parties.