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Final legal hurdle off Musharraf path

The court rejects the last plea challenging Musharraf's re-election, clearing his way to become a civilian leader, reports Kamal Siddiqi.

world Updated: Nov 22, 2007 23:16 IST
Kamal Siddiqi
Kamal Siddiqi
Hindustan Times

The path has been paved for Pakistan President, General Pervez Musharraf, to be sworn in for a second term as the Supreme Court on Thursday dismissed the last petition challenging his eligibility.

The verdict came after a brief hearing of Dr. Zahoor Mehdi's petition by the full bench of the apex court headed by Chief Justice Mr. Justice Abdul Hamid Dogar. “Dismissed,” Chief Justice Dogar said in court after hearing the last petition on Thursday. Gen Musharraf's top legal adviser, Sharifuddin Pirzada, said there was now no legal obstacle to his re-election.

“Now the court has to give us this in writing,” he said.

On Monday, the court had dismissed five petitions against President Musharraf's nomination, including the challenges from the presidential candidate Justice (retd) Wajihuddin and Makhdoom Amin Fahim.

The Attorney General had earlier said that President Musharraf would quit his army post and take oath as civilian president as early as Saturday if the presidential re-election was approved by the apex court.

Political analysts say that the focus has now shifted to the possibility of General Musharraf retiring from his position as chief of army staff in the next couple of days. “We are expecting an announcement on Friday," said an official.

Once Musharraf quits his all powerful position as army chief, the vice chief, General Ahraf Kayani, hand picked by Musharraf will take over. Musharraf will then proceed to take oath as a civilian president later in the week.

Given the significance of this move, opposition leaders have defered any protests they had scheduled for the week.

Pakistan is set to hold general elections in January and the swearing in of General Musharraf as a civilian president is seen as a first step towards the process.

A PTI report from Islamabad said that former prime minister Benazir Bhutto’s party decided to allow its candidates to file nomination papers for the January 8 general elections.

First Published: Nov 22, 2007 12:57 IST