Belfast Telegraph

Friday 1 August 2014

Musharraf faces life politics ban

Pakistan's paramilitary force stand guard at one of Mr Musharraf's court appearances (AP)

Former military ruler Pervez Musharraf has been banned from running for public office for the rest of his life by a Pakistani court in the latest blow since he returned from exile hoping for a political comeback.

One of his lawyers, Saad Shibli, said he would go to the Supreme Court to challenge the ruling, claiming the former leader should not be singled out for punishment for his actions while in power since others were involved.

"About 500 officials at different levels and institutions were part of Musharraf's actions, and if those actions come under scrutiny, all those people should be involved in this matter," Mr Shibli said.

Judges had previously barred Mr Musharraf from running in the parliamentary election scheduled for May 11. The Peshawar High Court handed down the lifetime ban after hearing an appeal by Mr Musharraf to allow him to stand in the upcoming election.

He returned to Pakistan in March after four years in self-imposed exile, but his fortunes have gone from bad to worse since. He is currently under house arrest in connection with a pair of court cases against him.

One involves his decision to fire senior judges, including the chief justice of the Supreme Court, while in power. The other relates to the assassination of former prime minister Benazir Bhutto in 2007. Government prosecutors have accused Musharraf of being involved - allegations he has denied.

Mr Musharraf seized power in a coup in 1999 when he was serving as army chief and ruled for nearly a decade. He stepped down in 2008 because of growing discontent with his rule.

He returned to Pakistan despite Taliban death threats, but was met by only a few thousand people when his plane landed in the southern port city of Karachi. Analysts said the response showed how little public support he enjoyed in the country.

The run-up to next month's parliamentary election has been marred by violence, much of it carried out by the Pakistani Taliban.

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