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Musharraf wins ruling on army role

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  • Court rejects challenge to Musharraf's contesting vote as army chief
  • Musharraf standing for new five year term as president
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ISLAMABAD, Pakistan (AP) -- Pakistan's Supreme Court on Friday dismissed legal challenges to President Gen. Pervez Musharraf's bid for a new five-year term.

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President Musharraf of Pakistan has pledged to stand down as chief of the military if he is re-elected

The 6-3 decision in favor of the military leader allows him to contest the October 6 election while army chief and removes the main obstacle to his staying in office.

"These petitions are held to be non-maintainable," presiding Judge Rana Bhagwandas told the court, drawing howls of protests from lawyers in the gallery.

"Shame, shame!" and "Go, Mushharraf, go!" they said as they pumped their fists in the air in the packed, cavernous courtroom.

Bhagwandas gave no reason for the ruling, which was decided by a 6-3 vote among the justices.

The government has insisted all along that Musharraf, who took power in a 1999 coup, is a qualified candidate. Critics have countered that he cannot run because he has retained his position as powerful army chief.

With his popularity and clout eroding, the general has said he would take off his uniform if he wins a new presidential term in the vote by federal and provincial legislators.

Musharraf has faced growing political opposition since his failed attempt to oust Pakistan's top judge in March. He is struggling to contain growing Islamic militancy.

Friday's ruling will bitterly disappoint activists from the opposition and the legal fraternity who saw the ruling as an acid test of whether the military could be divorced from politics.

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Farid Piracha, a lawmaker from Pakistan biggest religious party Jamaat-e-Islami, which had filed one of the several petition challenging Musharraf's eligibility to run -- said he refused to accept the ruling.

"The judges have not fulfilled their constitutional obligation," Piracha said. "Now our fight against dictatorship will be on the streets ... This decision does not reflect the sentiments of the people, and it will not be accepted." E-mail to a friend E-mail to a friend

Copyright 2007 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

All About Benazir BhuttoNawaz SharifPervez MusharrafPakistan

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