WORLD

Court bars ex-army chief from contesting Pakistan polls

COURT BARS EX-ARMY CHIEF FROM CONTESTING PAKISTAN POLLS

The Supreme Court on Thursday barred the country's former military ruler, Pervez Musharraf, from contesting the upcoming elections after the retired general failed to appear for a court hearing, according to local media reports.

Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar, who led a four-member bench of the apex court, reversed his previous order allowing Musharraf to "conditionally" submit his nomination forms for the general elections slated for July 25.

The court had ordered the former army chief, whose controversial rule over the South Asian nuclear state spanned from 1999 to 2008, to appear before the bench by Thursday afternoon if he wanted to avoid further action against him.

"Musharraf wants to return to the country but he cannot due to the current situation and Eid-ul-Fitr holidays," Musharraf's counsel, Qamar Afzal, told the court, according to the broadcaster Geo News.

Musharraf has been living in a self-imposed exile in the U.A.E. for the last several years. He has been banned for life by the Peshawar High Court from contesting elections in 2013, a verdict which he later challenged in the Supreme Court in 2015.

The development follows the reconstitution of a two-member special court earlier this week to try the former army chief for high treason for imposing emergency and suspending the constitution in November 2007, which followed the detention of several Supreme Court judges, including the then Chief Justice, Iftikhar Chaudhry.

Musharraf, who was indicted in the high treason case in March 2014, pleaded not guilty to the charges that he violated the constitution.

The retired general, who was forced to resign in August 2008 following an impeachment threat by the then ruling and opposition parties, is also accused of being involved in the assassination of former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, veteran Baloch politician Nawab Akbar Bugti and Islamabad's Red Mosque cleric Abdul Rasheed.

Musharraf has appeared in the courts only twice since the registration of cases against him after Nawaz Sharif, whose elected government was toppled by the dictator in 1999, was elected prime minister again in 2013 following general elections.

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