Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf filed his nomination papers on Thursday to run for re-election as the country’s Supreme Court prepared to rule on the army chief's eligibility to contest the poll.
A bench of nine judges is scheduled to deliver a ruling on Friday that could have a bearing on General Musharraf’s future: whether or not he can seek re-election as President while remaining in military uniform.
After handing over the General’s nomination papers to the Election Commission, Prime Minister Shuakat Aziz said, “President Pervez Musharraf is the candidate of the Pakistan Muslim League (PML) and its allies, and we are fully confident that he will succeed.”
Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry, meanwhile, ordered authorities to release opposition activists detained in a weekend crackdown the government said was necessary to maintain order.
As things stand, the scales are tipped heavily in favour of General Musharraf. “What makes this worse is the fact that the Election Commission is going out of the way to accomodate the President,” complained Shah Mehmood Qureshi, the Secretary General of the Pakistan Peoples Party.
Human rights campaigner Asma Jahangir said if General Musharraf wanted to prove his popularity, he should stand in a free and fair general election. Jahangir was also worried about the power-sharing arrangement once the president is re-elected and a new army chief appointed.