Musharraf’s future to be decided by restored judges: Sharif

By Muhammad Najeeb, IANS

Islamabad : A petition challenging Pervez Musharraf’s candidature for the presidential elections will be reopened and the Supreme Court’s restored judges will decide his future, says former prime minister Nawaz Sharif, who holds the key to the formation of a new government in Pakistan.

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“I believe that whosoever forms the government will restore the judges of superior courts to their pre-Nov 3 position when they were sacked by Musharraf… and these judges will decide on his (Musharraf’s) future,” Sharif said at a press conference here Tuesday.

Sharif’s party, the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), surprised many as it secured 65 seats in the 272-member National Assembly in Monday’s elections – second only to 86 seats won by slain former prime minister Benazir Bhutto’s Pakistan people’s Party (PPP).

The Supreme Court was in the process of hearing a petition against Musharraf’s candidature for the presidential elections when he imposed emergency in the country Nov 3 and sacked all judges of the apex and high courts.

Only those judged who showed allegiance to Musharraf were allowed to take oath under the Provisional Constitutional Order (PCO). Those who refused to take oath under PCO were put under house arrest, including former chief justice Iftikhar Chaudhry.

Sharif said that the petition on Musharraf’s candidature will be reopened and “only the restored judges will decide on it”.

He said he will sit with the other parties to put an end to dictatorship in the country.

The former prime minister said he was ready to talk to any democratic forces. “I would even accept all leaders of PML-Q (Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid) into the party fold if they want to return to their parent party,” Sharif said.

When Sharif’s government was overthrown by Musharraf in a bloodless military coup in October 1999, many of his party leaders left him and backed Musharraf under the banner of PML-Q. Almost 80 percent PML-Q leaders are originally from Sharif’s party.

The PML-Q that ruled the country under Musharraf’s presidency could get only 38 seats in the polls.

Sharif said that he will meet PPP leader Asif Ali Zardari Thursday to finalise plans for the government formation.

“We are in touch with other party leaders like Asfandyar Wali Khan of the Awami National Party (ANP) and will hold talks with them on the future set-up,” Sharif announced.

Answering a question about impeaching Musharraf, he said the matter will be discussed after the government formation.

He thanked the people for supporting his candidates in the elections.

“I thank and congratulate people of Pakistan on this victory…We have won this much seats despite rigging by the official party and for this I salute the people,” he said.