The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Polls not bound by Pervez laws

Islamabad, Nov. 12 (PTI): The Pakistan Supreme Court has said the October 10 polls were not conducted as per the newly-amended constitution of President Pervez Musharraf but they took place using the election laws of 2002.

A three-judge bench of the apex court, headed by Chief Justice Qazi Muhammad Farooq, said yesterday that the general elections were not held under the Legal Framework Order (LFO) issued by Musharraf but were conducted as per the Conduct of Election Order 2002.

Justice Farooq said the conduct of elections had nothing to do with the LFO and the constitution as they were kept in abeyance by the military rule.

So “the conditions laid down in the Conduct of Election Order 2002 have an over-riding effect,” The News quoted him as saying.

Political parties here said the court’s interpretation, making a clear distinction between the LFO and the election order, strengthened the position of the anti-Musharraf parties which have taken a firm stand against his constitutional amendments.

Officials in the Musharraf government, including law minister Khalid Ranjha, have argued in recent weeks that the amended constitution was already in use as political parties which contested the polls were elected under the new laws.

The new laws included enhanced membership of the parliament, reservations of 60 seats for women and barring the politicians convicted by court and people without the qualification of a degree from contesting the polls.

Reacting to the judgment, Faratullah Babar, spokesman for the Pakistan Peoples Party Parliamentarians (PPPP), said the judgment makes it clear that the elected members do not owe anything to the LFO and are not bound by it.

The PPPP and host of other parties have already made it clear that their elected members would take oath only under the 1973 constitution, he said, adding, the court judgment would come in handy for these parties to press their point home when the National Assembly meets.

The judgment follows stringent criticism by the country’s lawyers that the judges of the apex court were not taking an independent stand on the constitutional issues as they took oath under the Provisional Constitutional Order (PCO) promulgated by musharraf after his 1999 military coup.

Differences between the apex court and the Supreme Court Bar Association came to a head recently when the latter withdrew its petition questioning certain constitutional issues stating that there was no point in arguing as the judges were bound by the PCO. The court later took exception to the action of the Bar Association and threatened to take action against the association’s president, Hamid Khan, for contempt.

Pakistan's main pro-military party and Islamic conservatives said today they had narrowed differences that have prevented them forming a coalition to return the country to civilian government.

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