Nirupama Subramanian

PPP’s tacit support in lieu of indemnity

National reconciliation ordinance soon

Musharraf holds talks with top leaders of PML(Q)

ISLAMABAD: President Pervez Musharraf reached an understanding with Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) leader Benazir Bhutto late on Thursday that will secure the party’s tacit support to him in the October 6 presidential election in return for a law giving her indemnity against corruption charges.

Ruling today

With less than 48 hours to D-Day, General Musharraf still faces a hurdle in the Supreme Court as petitions have challenged his candidature and urged the Bench to stay the election. A ruling on the petitions is expected on Friday.

The Musharraf-Bhutto agreement, in the form of a “national reconciliation ordinance,” is likely to grant indemnity to all those who held public office or were in government service between 1985 and November 17, 1999 against whom cases were registered but who have not yet been convicted.

The ordinance is expected shortly.

Earlier, Gen. Musharraf held discussions with top leaders of the ruling Pakistan Muslim League (Q) — some of whom remain opposed to a deal with Ms. Bhutto — on the final shape of the ordinance.

Ms. Bhutto announced in London after a meeting of the PPP central executive committee that she was expecting an announcement from the government.

“We have an expectation that things will be resolved, but at this stage, things are not final,” she said earlier at a press conference shown live by Pakistan television channels.

It is unclear yet if the ordinance will extend to the former Prime Minister, Nawaz Sharif, unseated in a bloodless coup in October 1999 by Gen. Musharraf.

The ordinance, which may include measures for a transparent general election, will take effect immediately but has to be passed into law within three months by the National Assembly.

Ms. Bhutto said the PPP would not vote for Gen. Musharraf in the presidential election as he was contesting in uniform. But as he had told the Supreme Court he would step down as the Army Chief before taking oath as President for a new term, the PPP would not resign from the electoral college as other Opposition parties had done, provided the agreement was finalised.

More In: Today's Paper