Court 'upholds Musharraf election'

Supreme court dismisses five of six challenges to Pakistan president's re-election.

    A majority of the media was barred from the
    supreme court on Monday [AFP]

    Special report

    A bench of 10 judges struck down the five main challenges to Musharraf's right to have contested the election while being still army chief.
    The supreme court in Islamabad was heavily secured for the decisions and all international media and most local outlets were barred from entering the building.
    Only a ''minor'' petition filed by one Zahoor Mehdi remained to be decided.
    Mehdi wants the presidential election annulled since his own nomination papers were rejected by the election commission.

    Musharraf purge
    Musharraf declared emergency rule and dismissed all hostile judges from the supreme court on November 3.
    Musharraf has said he will quit as army chief and become a civilian ruler once the court has fully validated his victory in a presidential election last month.

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    Kamal Hyder, Al Jazeera's correspondent in Islamabad, reported: "Many people in Pakistan would be saying that President Musharraf's victory at the courts has been engineered.
    "However, President Musharraf will now be in a position to be sworn in as Pakistan's president and that might facilitate his way for shedding the military uniform and appointing a new chief, a key demand of the Americans' at the moment," he said.
    On Sunday, Musharraf said he was asking the election commission to call a parliamentary election on January 8.
    "Inshallah (God willing), the general elections in the country would be held on January 8," the official Associated Press of Pakistan news agency quoted Musharraf as saying.
    But he gave no date for lifting the state of emergency, despite US pressure over the weekend to put nuclear-armed Pakistan back on a democratic track.
    Hunger strike

    Imran Khan, a prominent opposition politician, has meanwhile begun a hunger strike in jail to protest against the imposition of emergency rule in his country, his spokesman has said.

    Seth Niazi said Khan was prepared to go "as far as it takes" with the hunger strike to try to force Musharraf to lift emergency rule.

    "He is on hunger strike until the judiciary is restored to the status it was before the imposition of emergency rule on November 3," Niazi said.

    "Seeing that he is now locked up in jail, there is no other way of protesting - so this is the only way and this is what he has chosen to do."

    Pakistani police detained cricketer-turned-politician Khan last week after he emerged from hiding to lead a student protest against Musharraf.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and agencies


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