Pervez Musharraf, Pakistan’s former military leader, has been cleared to run for a seat in the upcoming general parliamentary election, poll officials say.
The approval came from officials in the far northern constituency of Chitral on Sunday, despite numerous legal challenges to his candidacy.
Musharraf, who ruled Pakistan for nine years after seizing power in a bloodless coup in 1999, returned to Pakistan from self-imposed exile on March 24, vowing to run for the May 11 poll in four constituencies.
He remains a hugely controversial figure nearly five years after he resigned in the face of impeachment proceedings and his All-Pakistan Muslim League party is not thought to be a serious contender for power at the polls.
In the town of Chitral, close to the Afghan border, officials approved Musharraf’s candidature on Sunday, an AFP journalist witnessed.
“His papers are in order. He is not convicted so far so we cannot disqualify him,” Jamal Khan, a returning officer, said.
Rivals in Chitral have vowed to challenge Musharraf’s candidature in the northern town.
In the retired general’s home city of Karachi, officials turned down his nomination papers, saying that he had violated the constitution and sacked senior judges during his tenure as president.
Returning officer Ikramur Rehman upheld objections raised by his rivals that Musharraf had violated the constitution and dismissed judges by imposing emergency rule in 2007.
“This is a biased decision,” said Afzal Agha, an official in Musharraf’s party, adding that an appeal would be filed.
Musharraf’s nomination papers were also rejected in the Punjab town of Kasur on Friday and a decision on his bid to contest a seat in Islamabad is expected late on Sunday.
There is no limit to the number of seats a candidate can contest in Pakistan and it is common practice for high-profile politicians to run in more than one at the same time.
If they win more than one seat, they must choose which seat they choose to occupy, and the others will be contested in bye-elections.
Since Musharraf left power in 2008, his powerbase has shrivelled and last month he suffered the indignity of having a shoe thrown at him in court by an angry lawyer.
He is facing a barrage of legal cases, including conspiracy to murder. He has been granted bail over the 2007 killing of former prime minister Benazir Bhutto and a Baloch rebel leader in 2006, and for sacking and arresting judges in November 2007.
On Monday the Supreme Court will hear a petition asking for Musharraf to be put on trial for treason for imposing emergency rule in 2007, a move that ultimately paved the way for his downfall.