The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Education heat on Pak hawks

Islamabad, June 13 (Reuters): Pakistan’s top court sent notices today to several leaders of an Islamic alliance locked in a row with the government, to answer whether their educational qualifications met election criteria.

The Supreme Court sent the notices on a petition by a private lawyer seeking the disqualification of 65 members of the Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal, a six-party Islamic alliance.

The MMA is engaged in a standoff with the government over the powers of military President Pervez Musharraf — a key ally of the US in its war on terror. The MMA wants Musharraf to resign as army chief and seeks a reversal of constitutional changes which undermine parliament.

The lawyer, Aslam Khaki, has argued that the degrees held by MMA members from Islamic seminaries were not equivalent to graduate degrees, the minimum qualification set for those contesting the 2002 national elections.

The Supreme Court said today it would hear the petition at a later date and sent notices to all the respondents.

Khaki has also mounted a separate legal challenge in the Supreme Court against a decision to impose the Shariat, or traditional Islamic law, in the North-West Frontier Province controlled by the MMA. The court adjourned the case yesterday for two weeks.

Khaki has called the Islamic Bill passed by the assembly of North-West Frontier Province unconstitutional.

Critics say the Shariat law, passed by the assembly last week, and other Islamisation steps already adopted or in the pipeline, are reminiscent of the policies of the hardline Taliban overthrown in Afghanistan in late 2001.

Meanwhile, shifting the onus on resolving the deadlock over his constitutional amendments to the opposition, Musharraf has said the crisis is continuing due to the “adamant” attitude of the agitating parties who were playing the role of a “spoiler”.

“(My) uniform is not their issue. This is not an issue. It is a personal thing. They are just complicating it for nothing. It does not matter to them whether or not I remain in uniform,” he told reporters in Lahore yesterday at the wedding of foreign minister Khurshid Mehmood Kasuri’s son.

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