Musharraf’s Power Hangs In the Balance
PJM Islamabad: Even after his sweeping victory in the parliament's polling on October 6, Pervez Musharraf's re-election as Pakistan's next president still isn't a sure thing, reports Ghalia Aymen.
October 15, 2007 - 1:21 am
Eight years of planning has borne fruit for Gen Pervez Musharraf, with his decisive win in Pakistan’s Presidential elections last week.
However, he still has a major hurdle to overcome. The country’s Supreme Court has barred the election commission to officially declare him elected unless the constitutional petition challenging his eligibility are decided. The Court is scheduled to consider the matter on Wednesday.
In 1999 Musharraf sacked the democratically elected government of Nawaz Sharif and through a bloodless coup. General Musharraf declared himself chief executive of Pakistan under legal framework order (LFO) which was essentially illegal framework order, as it was unconstitutional.
He then arm-twisted the highest judiciary he got himself legalized. Supreme Court gave him three years to hold elections and during that time, amend the constitution.
But then came September 11, 2001. The illegitimate became legitimate in the eyes of international community after Musharraf promised his unflinching support for the war against terror. With that rock-solid international support he sacked then-President Mr. Rafiq Tarrar and declared himself president of Pakistan. He subsequently legalized this move to become president by a controversial referendum.
Later in 2002, general elections were held which were also heavily rigged. He created his own party by buying the loyalties of corrupt politicians and formed a government of his choice by a margin of one vote.
Though unpopular internally, Musharraf was still gaining power by playing his cards right. Later the same year year Musharraf went to attend the Agra Summit in India where he blasted Indian media about India’s illegal interference in Pakistan. The summit failed but Pakistani audiences found his rants cathartic and they loved him for being so open and candid. His popularity soared skyhigh.
After enjoying unfettered power for five years, his popularity this year plunged to rock bottom levels following his controversial, illegal and unconstitutional move of suspending the Chief Justice and Pakistan people came out in unprecedented numbers in support of the judiciary.
With a party mostly consisting of corrupt politicians who held hostage to General Musharraf, (he has their files of corruption cases from the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) he won the election by large numbers.
His victory was tainted by media reports claim people were were forced to vote for him and that there were hidden cameras in the polling booth to make sure that everyone votes for Musharraf, and the fact that in a move to discredit his election, most of his opposition either resigned or abstained from voting.
Others are still fighting. Retired Justice Wajih-ud-din Ahmed, one of the opponents for presidential elections, went to Supreme Court to prove Musharraf’s ineligibility as a president because of his position as head of the military.
Even after his electoral victory, and even after promising to “doff” his uniform, the sword of constitutional petitions pending in the Supreme Court still hangs over Musharraf’s head.
Until the Supreme Court gives its final verdict to this petition for or against Musharraf, he cannot take the oath as President of Pakistan.