ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s former president General (retd) Pervez Musharraf cannot contest the general elections after the Supreme Court on Thursday withdrew a conditional permission to file his nomination papers for the polls on July 25.
“Musharraf wants to return to the country but cannot owing to the current situation and Eid Al-Fitr holidays,” the former military chief’s counsel Qamar Afzal told a four-member bench of the apex court that was hearing Musharraf’s appeal against his 2013 lifetime disqualification by the Peshawar High Court.
Last week, the Supreme Court allowed the ex-army chief to file nomination papers for the general elections on condition that he would appear before the court on June 13 to attend a hearing.
General Musharraf filed his nomination papers from two constituencies — Chitral and Karachi — after the court’s directive, but failed to appear in the court on Wednesday. Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar then gave the former president until 2pm Thursday to appear in person or face action according to the law.
Musharraf’s lawyer, however, pleaded that the former president be allowed more time to appear before the court. Rejecting his plea for more time, the apex court adjourned the case for an indefinite period and took back its order allowing Musharraf to file his nomination papers.
“Obviously Musharraf cannot contest the election after the withdrawal of the Supreme Court’s order, but he still may return to Pakistan after Eid Al-Fitr to face cases against him and lead the election campaign of his party,” Shahzad Arbi, joint secretary information of Musharraf’s All Pakistan Muslim League (APML) party, told Arab News.
He said that the party has fielded more than 200 candidates for national and provincial assemblies’ elections across the country and “they all want Musharraf to return and lead the election campaign.”
Arbi said that if the former president decides to stay in Dubai during the elections in Pakistan, he would “address public gatherings through telephone and video-link to mobilize party workers and leaders.”
The former president is facing a slew of criminal cases in Pakistan including high-treason, the Benazir Bhutto murder, killings in Lal Masjid during a military operation and the Akbar Bugti murder in Balochistan during his regime.
He left for the UAEmirates in March 2016 for medical treatment and is currently living in Dubai with his elderly mother and wife, Sehba Musharraf.
“Musharraf is no more in the electoral race as the Supreme Court has withdrawn its order of allowing him to file his nomination papers for the general elections,” Altaf Ahmad Khan, a spokesman for the Election Commission of Pakistan, told Arab News.
“His (Musharraf’s) nomination papers won’t be processed,” he said, “his party candidates can contest the elections as the APML is a registered political party.”
Political analysts, however, believe that General Musharraf’s political party has no future in electoral politics as it lacks a basic network of workers and activists in the constituencies.
“Musharraf does have a fan following in some parts of the country but this cannot help his candidates win a constituency in the elections,” Professor Tahir Malik, a political analyst, told Arab News.
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