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Musharraf's nomination papers accepted

Pak poll body has accepted Musharraf's re-election bid amid use of police force to quell those opposing it.

world Updated: Sep 30, 2007 04:15 IST
Kamal Siddiqi
Kamal Siddiqi
Hindustan Times

General Pervez Musharraf's nomination papers for the post of president were accepted by Pakistan's Election Commission on Saturday amidst scenes of violence and public disorder in Islamabad in which several people were injured.

Hundreds of people, primarily lawyers and journalists, were lathi-charged and beaten by policemen as they protested against the EC's decision to accept General Musharraf's nomination papers.

Papers of other candidates, including Makhdoom Amin Fahim of the Pakistan Peoples Party and Justice Wajihuddin Ahmad (retd) were accepted as well by the Commission. However, the papers of 38 candidates were rejected on technical grounds.

Lawyers had gathered outside the Supreme Court building on Saturday morning to protest against the SC decision on Friday, which paved the way for General Musharraf to contest the elections. A similar group of lawyers gathered outside the Election Commission building.

Soon after, scuffles broke out between the policemen and the lawyers who were gathered there. The scene of most of the action was Constitution Avenue, one of the main boulevards of Islamabad. Here, the police fired teargas shells to disperse the crowd.

Journalists present at the site said that there was a large group of men in civilian clothing, which started pelting the lawyers and journalists with stones. "Several times in the past lawyers have protested before the Supreme Court but never has it happened that the policemen start to attack them."

Local journalist Waseem Akhtar said that the police seemed to have been given instructions to target those lawyers who had been vocal in court against the President.

"Never have I seen the IG Police for Islamabad taking a


and beating someone with it. This is how he attacked Ali Ahmed Kurd, one of the lawyers in the dual office case," said Akhtar.

Eyewitnesses said that the police targeted journalists, lawyers as well as political party workers. Lawyer Aitezaz Ahsan, counsel for the Chief Justice in the CJ case earlier this year, was also attacked by policemen. In the ensuing melee, journalists manhandled the minister of state for information, Tariq Azeem.

Azeem later commented that he was "only trying to help the journalists". He said that it was wrong for the lawyers to protest the SC decision on the streets. "They should go to court and appeal instead," said the Minister, adding that he had ordered an inquiry into the incident.

First Published: Sep 29, 2007 16:44 IST