Pakistan Supreme Court permits presidential poll

By Muhammad Najeeb, IANS

Islamabad : The Supreme Court of Pakistan Friday gave its go-ahead for polling in Saturday’s presidential election but restrained the Election Commission from notifying the result till it takes a final decision on petitions filed against President Pervez Musharraf’s candidature.

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A 10-judge bench headed by Justice Javed Iqbal asked the Election Commission to notify the results only after the court permitted.

The court will resume hearing Oct 17 on the two petitions filed by Musharraf’s rival candidates – Makhdoom Amin Fahim of the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) and independent candidate Wajihuddin Ahmed, who has support from the lawyers and some opposition members.

The bench issued the short order unanimously, while an earlier plea on similar petitions was rejected 6-3.

Fahim and Ahmed had filed petitions in the Supreme Court against Musharraf’s candidature and pleaded for a stay order against the Saturday poll.

“The Election Commission will announce the results but will not issue the notification in this regard,” Attorney General Malik Abdul Qayyum told reporters while interpreting the short order.

This was “an excellent” decision and “we hope that court will decide in our favour”, he added

Former Pakistan chief justice Sajjad Ali Shah said of the order: “This is like a glass half full, half empty…but let’s see what would be the final decision.”

The court decision will create problems for the PPP, whose leader and former prime minister Benazir Bhutto is in the process of finalizing a power-sharing deal with Musharraf in the new dispensation after the Oct 6 presidential poll.

The government was on the point of issuing a National Reconciliation Ordinance granting amnesty to all political leaders who have corruption cases against them but this has now been put on hold till the Supreme Court delivers its final verdict on Musharraf’s candidature.