Pakistani lawyers to nominate ex-judge to stand against Musharraf


Islamabad : Lawyers in Pakistan Monday named a prominent retired judge as a candidate against military ruler Pervez Musharraf in the Oct 6 Presidential elections.

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Justice (retd) Wajeehuddin Ahmed was among those few judges who had refused to show allegiance to Musharraf when he dismissed the government of exiled former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif in 1999.

Wajeehuddin had quit as a Supreme Court judge after refusing to take oath under the Provisional Constitutional Order, issued by Musharraf after he suspended the Constitution.

“The lawyers’ community has nominated retired Justice Wajeehuddin Ahmed as their candidate to challenge General Musharraf,” Tariq Mehmood, a representative of the lawyers association opposing the Pakistan President’s re-election bid, told reporters at the Supreme Court building.

“We ask the government not to create hurdles for lawyers to submit nomination papers of Justice Ahmed with the Election Commission on Sept 27,” Mehmood said.

The Election Commission has set Sept 27 for submission of nomination papers for the Presidential polls.

Mehmood said Wajeehuddin would also raise objections over the nomination of Musharraf when the Commission will hold scrutiny of papers of Presidential candidates.

Meanwhile, as Pakistan Supreme Court heard petitions challenging President Prevez Musharraf’s re-election bid, an angry lawyer blackened the face of the General’s counsel in full media glare while riot police clashed with protesters, arresting dozens of them.

Government advocate Ahmed Raza Kasuri was left stunned as lawyer Khurshid Ahmed, waiting at the entrance of the Supreme Court where a battery of TV cameras were lined up ahead of the hearing, lunged towards him and sprayed black paint on his face while shouting slogans against the Musharraf regime.

Kasuri, who is defending Musharraf on the spate of petitions challenging his continuation as President and Army Chief and his plans to get re-elected in uniform, claimed that the paint contained acid.

Adding to the high drama, scores of flag-waving and slogan shouting Opposition workers hurled stones at mounted riot police who tried to stop them from breaking the barricades and reaching the court.

Over two dozen protesters, mostly from Islamist alliance Muttahida-Majlis-e-Amal, who were shouting slogans like “Go, Musharraf, go!”, were bundled into police vehicles and taken away.

The Supreme Court is hearing a series of legal challenges by opposition parties and lawyers’ groups to the Oct 6 presidential election.

An angry Kasuri, who was wearing glasses, was seen cleaning his face and termed the incident as an “attack on democracy” and the right of lawyers to represent clients of their choice.