The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Pak hawks protest MP ouster by tribunal

Islamabad, July 1 (AFP): Pakistan’s powerful Islamic alliance today condemned the unseating of their MP by a tribunal as a political decision and announced mass protests against what it called President Pervez Musharraf’s US-driven campaign against religious parties.

“If this inimical campaign is not stopped we will resist with all our might and throw Musharraf out of power,” secretary general of Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal alliance (MMA) Maulana Fazlur Rehman warned at a news conference. He said the alliance would hold demonstrations across Pakistan on Friday.

An election tribunal yesterday unseated Mufti Ibrar Sultan, who was elected to the national assembly in October, saying that his educational qualification from a religious institution was not equal to university graduation which was mandatory for contesting the elections.

Sultan had won the seat in the 342-member assembly from Kohat constituency in North West Frontier Province (NWFP), a political stronghold of the Islamic alliance. His election was challenged by Iftikhar Gailani who contested the same constituency on the ticket of the pro-Musharraf Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid (PML-Q).

A separate petition filed by lawyer Aslam Khaki, seeking disqualification of 65 MPs of MMA is pending at the Pakistani Supreme Court in Islamabad.

Rehman said the alliance would not appeal the decision of the election tribunal that passed the judgment in Peshawar, capital of MMA ruled frontier province. “If our political rights are suppressed then Musharraf will also go down. We are not cowards.”

Rehman said “the US was unable to save its biggest protege the late Shah of Iran from the wrath of the people and Musharraf will also meet the same fate.”

NWFP Chief Minister Akram Durrani said in Peshawar that Sultan's disqualification would lead to anarchy.

Sultan should not have been allowed to contest the election "if the degrees of religious seminaries were not equivalent to bachelor degrees," he told reporters.

"This would lead the situation towards anarchy," he added.

The MMA dominates the federal opposition with 17.5 percent of seats in the national assembly and also shares power in the southwest Baluchistan province.

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