Musharraf's future in Pakistan SC's hands
Saturday October 6 2007 02:16 IST
ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court ruled on Friday that Pakistan's presidential election can proceed but the winner can only be declared after it had ruled on legal complaints that President Gen. Pervez Musharraf is ineligible to run.
The surprise ruling jeopardizes Musharraf's bid to secure a new five-year term in Saturday's vote by lawmakers which he is expected to win.
Presiding Justice Javed Iqbal said hearings on petitions filed by Musharraf's opponents will resume on October 17 _ meaning that even if Musharraf secures the most votes, he would have to wait at least 11 days before knowing whether he could take up office.
His current presidential term expires on November 15. The ruling means Pakistan will be in political limbo after the election, and it clouds the gathering prospect of a power-sharing deal with former premier Benazir Bhutto.
Musharraf and Bhutto, both liberal and pro-U.S., appeared on Thursday to have agreed the text of an ordinance granting amnesty to former officials that would quash long-standing corruption cases against her and other politicians _ smoothing the way for her planned return from exile on October 18.
The government quickly said it would respect the court ruling. "We have always accepted and respected court rulings, and we also accept today's ruling," Deputy Information Minister Tariq Azim said.
Asked about the prospect of political uncertainty after the vote, Azim said, "the Supreme Court must have thought about it, but one has to go by whatever the court rules."
THE NEW INDIAN EXPRESS