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Musharraf plans to keep army post


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(CNN) -- Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf plans to remain the army chief despite earlier pledging to leave the post by the end of the year, officials say.

The country's information minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmed told CNN Wednesday the circumstances the country faces demand that both the presidency and army chief post be kept by Musharraf, an important U.S. ally in the war on terror.

Pakistani forces have been battling al Qaeda fighters in an ongoing operation to rout terrorists in a tribal area near the border with Afghanistan, Pakistani intelligence sources have said.

India and Pakistan have been at loggerheads over the disputed territory of Kashmir, though there have been diplomatic efforts to defuse that crisis.

Also, Musharraf, who came to power in a bloodless coup in 1999, has been the target of assassination attempts.

"People understand the circumstances and the environment and believe he should continue with both," Ahmed said.

Musharraf's agreement to relinquish his role as army chief was part of a deal worked out last year between the government and opposition officials.

Musharraf committed to stepping down from his military position by December 31. The arrangement was worked out because other parties expressed opposition to the amount of power Musharraf has wielded.

Ahmed argues Musharraf is allowed by law to keep both portfolios.

The Northwest Frontier provincial parliament adopted a resolution Wednesday saying Musharraf should step down from one of the positions.

The Punjab provincial parliament recently adopted a resolution calling for Musharraf to keep both portfolios.


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