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Poll panel to Pervez aid
- Rules changed to let General contest

Islamabad, Sept. 16 (PTI): Pakistan’s election commission has amended rules barring persons holding an office of profit from participating in presidential polls, paving the way for General Pervez Musharraf’s re-election as President for another five-year term.

“The election commission has amended the Presidential Election Rules 1988 so that Article 63 of the Constitution no longer applies to the President,” media reports today quoted federal minister for parliamentary affairs Sher Afgan Niazi as saying.

Article 63 lays down conditions under which a person can be disqualified from being a member of parliament.

“Now Article 63 does not apply to the President. Its clauses which prevent government servants from participating in elections unless they have been retired for at least two years, and stop anyone who holds an office of profit in the service of Pakistan from participating in elections, also do not apply to the President,” Niazi said.

After amending the rules, the chief election commissioner issued a notification under which the general can contest the presidential polls and get re-elected as President, he said.

“With the amendment in the rules, the returning officer for the poll can no longer conduct a probe or reject any nomination paper if the candidate is subject to disqualification from being elected as, or from being, a member of parliament as provided in Article 63,” Niazi said.

The amendment has omitted the words “or is subject to any disqualification from being elected as, and from being, a member of the National Assembly” from the rules, the Daily Times reported.

Election schedule

The schedule for Pakistan’s presidential polls will be announced on Tuesday, a leading daily said in Islamabad today.

Chief election commissioner Qazi M. Farooque would declare the poll schedule, the Daily Times said, without revealing its sources.

The ruling Pakistan Muslim League had said yesterday that the polls to re-elect Pervez Musharraf as President for another five-year term would be held in the first week of October, “after which the dictator will doff his uniform”.

The government had also indicated that Musharraf could get a second term even without a contest.

Parliamentary affairs minister Sher Afgan Niazi was quoted by the media as saying that the Opposition were unlikely to nominate any presidential candidate.

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