Pak Opposition Urges Zardari to Give up Powers

Pakistan’s main opposition PML(N) on Sunday demanded that President Asif Ali Zardari immediately strip his office of sweeping powers — he inherited from his predecessor, Gen. Pervez Musharraf.

The demand comes days after Zardari ceded control of Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal to Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani.

Zardari’s office has retained the extensive powers that were conferred on the President by the 17th amendment to the country’s constitution under Gen Musharraf, who grabbed power in a 1999 coup and resigned from office last year.

Zardari, in the past, has promised to abolish the amendment that would see his office revert to a more ceremonial role, in line with the country’s original laws.

On Sunday, Punjab chief minister Shahbaz Sharif said: “I would ask the president to immediately abolish the 17th amendment” and added that “the nation would appreciate this act.”

Sharif, brother of main opposition leader Nawaz Sharif, was speaking to journalists in Lahore.

The key powers invested in the President by virtue of the 17th amendment, apart from control over the country’s nuclear weapons, include the authority to fire an elected government and appoint top military chiefs.

In a recent interview to a television channel, Zardari had said that the amendment would be done away with sometime next month.

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