Pakistani Lawyers Gearing Up Again to Challenge Musharraf's Bid for another Presidential Term

PBA-SCBA meeting convened to block president’s re-election
By Naveed Siddiqui: Daily Times, September 1, 2007

ISLAMABAD: The lawyers’ community has decided to block President General Pervez Musharraf’s re-election from the current assemblies, and has called a joint meeting of the Pakistan Bar Council (PBC) and Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA) on Sunday to chalk out a strategy in this regard.

Sources told Daily Times that the lawyers’ community has, in principle, agreed to court arrests as part of their campaign against President Musharraf’s bid for re-election. “SCBA President Munir A Malik, Justice (r) Tariq Mahmood, Ali Ahmed Kurd, and Chaudhry Aitzaz Ahsan—if he leaves the Pakistan People’s Party, which he will if a deal between Musharraf and Benazir Bhutto goes through—will lead lawyers in pressing for court arrests,” the sources said.

However, sources said there were still differences among the lawyers, with some suggesting they should not resort to court arrests in the first phase. Justice (r) Mahmood told Daily Times only one agenda item would be discussed at the PBC-SCBA joint meeting: how to stop Gen Musharraf from extending his military rule for another five years.

He said the lawyers would discuss the modus operandi to be adopted, which could either take the shape of challenging the election in the Supreme Court or launching mass mobilisation and political parties’ sensitisation campaigns.

“We will not let Musharraf get re-elected by the current assemblies nor will we let political parties provide safe passage to a military ruler in this extra-constitutional exercise,” he said.

Justice Mahmood said political parties should refrain from putting the burden of their wrongdoings on the Supreme Court, and must rise up against the unconstitutional re-election of President Musharraf with the support of the public.

“We will start sensitising the political parties by wooing Maulana Fazlur Rehman to dissolve the Balochistan and NWFP provincial assemblies to stop Musharraf from getting re-elected by an incomplete electoral college,” he said.

The PBA and SCBA will challenge the presidential election in the Supreme Court if Musharraf gets himself re-elected from the current assemblies even after the Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal (MMA) majority provincial assemblies are dissolved, Justice Mahmood said.

The two provincial assemblies of Balochistan and NWFP have 260 votes in the Electoral College that would vote on President Musharraf’s re-election for another five-year term, he added.

“The lawyers community will have to make efforts to stop the extension of military rule in the country come what may,” he said. “We will stop the move by hook or by crook,” he added.

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