Pakistan’s Supreme Court on Friday cleared the path for General Pervez Musharraf to run for president on October 6 by dismissing all the constitutional petitions challenging his candidature. The nine-member bench, which pronounced the judgement, was split: six judges favoured the president’s election while three dissented.
“These petitions are held to be non-maintainable,” Justice Rana Bhagwandas, who presided over the bench, told the court, triggering loud protests from lawyers in the gallery.
The petitions against General Musharraf had been filed by Jamaat-e-Islami chief Qazi Hussain Ahmed, Tehrik-e-Insaaf chief Imran Khan, president of Pakistan Communist Party Jamil Malik and others.
President Musharraf, through his lawyer, had given a commitment to the court that he would step down as army chief if re-elected president. His counsel also informed the court that should Musharraf not win the election, he would remain army chief.
“Justice triumphs. The president respects and honours the judgment of the Supreme Court, as always,” Musharraf’s spokesman Major-General Rashid Qureshi added.
Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz hailed the ruling. “Today Pakistan has crossed an important, indeed critical milestone in its march towards true democracy,” he said. Many, however, commented that the decision had been taken “under pressure from the government”.