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Pakistan Supreme Court to rule on complaint challenging Musharraf's rule

Pakistan Supreme Court to rule on complaint challenging Musharraf's rule

Pakistan's Supreme Court kept up pressure on President Gen. Pervez Musharraf on Wednesday by agreeing to consider a complaint from an Islamist leader challenging his rule.
Musharraf's stated intention to obtain a new five-year term from lawmakers in September or October while continuing as army chief faces a string of legal challenges as well as opposition calls for a return to civilian rule.
Washington, which counts Musharraf as a key anti-terror ally but is growing impatient with his performance against al-Qaida and the Taliban, also appears to be pressing for faster democratic reform.
On Wednesday, the court agreed to consider a petition from Qazi Hussain Ahmad, leader of the Jamaat-e-Islami party, challenging the legality of Musharraf's dual roles.
Ahmad said Musharraf's rule since he seized power in a 1999 coup was "unconstitutional, immoral, illegal."
"He has jeopardized everything _ the constitution, the laws _ and therefore it is time for the Supreme Court to set the house right," Ahmad told reporters.
It was unclear when the court, whose chief justice recently defeated an attempt by Musharraf to unseat him, would schedule a hearing on the petition or rule on other similar complaints filed in recent days.
Many observers, including some of Musharraf's own supporters, are urging him to quit his military post _ the real source of his power _ before seeking a new mandate or risk a disastrous legal defeat.
But the general insists the constitution lets him remain in uniform until the end of the year and has left open what will happen after that.
"If he's going to doff it (the uniform) in December, why not take it off in September and give a democratic face to the party?" said Ishaq Khan Khakwani, who quit the Cabinet on Monday to protest Musharraf's re-election plan.
The ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Q party "is losing its popularity and we have a very difficult task of defending him," Khakwani said on Dawn News television.
Against that background, the president's political survival may depend on his ability to strike a power-sharing deal with Benazir Bhutto, a former prime minister and opposition leader planning to return from exile ahead of parliamentary elections.
While bloody fighting between the army and pro-Taliban militants near the Afghan border illustrates the threat of Islamic militancy facing Pakistan, moderate parties are expected to sweep the year-end polls.
Bhutto has indicated that her liberal-leaning Pakistan People's Party could support Musharraf as a civilian president provided he meets a string of conditions that include re-empowering Parliament and ensuring the general elections are fair.
Bhutto and another exiled two-time prime minister plotting a political comeback, Nawaz Sharif, are also seeking immunity from prosecution and the lifting of a prohibition on premiers serving three terms.
Sharif, whose government was ousted in the 1999 coup and who is denouncing Musharraf as a tyrant, has vowed to return soon despite government threats that he could be arrested on charges dating back to the military takeover.


Updated : 2021-08-03 19:14 GMT+08:00