Pakistan's Supreme Court dismissed legal challenges to President Gen Pervez Musharraf's continued rule on Monday, opening the way for him to quit as army chief and restore civilian rule.
The decision resolved one of Musharraf's key justifications for his Nov 3 imposition of a state of emergency that has created widespread political turmoil. The United States wants normality restored before Pakistan's critical parliamentary elections in early January.
Chief Justice Abdul Hameed Dogar dismissed three opposition petitions challenging Musharraf's victory in last month's presidential election, saying they had been "withdrawn" because opposition lawyers were not present in court.
Dogar turned down a request from one of the petitioners to postpone the hearings.