K J M Varma in Islamabad
Faced with the opposition demand to step down to pave way for the formation of an interim government in the wake of threat of war with India, Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf has said he wants to shed his powers which ought to rest entirely with an elected premier.
"In fact, I now want to shed power. I wish there was an elected prime minister to take the crucial decisions that need to be taken at this juncture," Musharraf told a meeting of editors and senior journalists in Islamabad on Wednesday night.
Mainstream opposition parties had boycotted a meeting called by him on Wednesday morning to discuss the Indo-Pak stand-off.
Explaining his plans to bring a 'balance' between the prime minister and army chief, Musharraf said he was least interested in a figurehead prime minister and wanted a premier who wielded complete power to govern, Pakistani daily Dawn reported.
Musharraf reportedly sent pro-government politician and former president Farooq Leghari to persuade Jamaat-e-Islami chief Qazi Ahmed Hussain to attend the all-party conference.
Hussain, who refused to oblige, later said, "We are fully aware of the developments and need no briefing, as we also know that the religious and political leadership have to mobilise and motivate the people to get united in support of the armed forces."
Ahmed said vesting powers of president, chief executive and chief of staff in one person is dangerous for the country.
"If Musharraf was sincere to the nation, he must take steps to strengthen national institutions instead of his own power base," he said.
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