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Pakistan's top court to hear Musharraf treason petition


Pakistan's top court will on Monday hear a petition asking for Pervez Musharraf to be put on trial for treason, the latest in a barrage of challenges to his bid for election, officials said.

Taufiq Asif, president of the Rawalpindi high court bar association, told AFP that he had asked the Supreme Court to try Musharraf for treason for imposing emergency rule in 2007, a move that ultimately paved the way for his downfall.

"I have been informed by the Supreme Court that a three-member bench headed by Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry is going to hear my petition against General Pervez Musharraf after three days," Asif said.

Supreme Court officials confirmed that judges would hear the petition on Monday.

Musharraf returned to Pakistan from four years in self-imposed exile on March 24, vowing to run for the lower house of parliament at elections on May 11.

He already faces a litany of legal charges and has been bailed over the 2007 killing of former prime minister Benazir Bhutto and a Baluch rebel leader in 2006, and for sacking and arresting judges in 2007.

His powerbase has shrivelled since he stepped down after nine years of military rule in 2008, but he has applied to contest elections from four different seats.

On Friday, the Pakistan Muslim League-N (PML-N) party of former prime minister Nawaz Sharif, frontrunners in the polls, urged the election commission to reject Musharraf as a candidate on the grounds that he had abused the constitution.

Praising authorities for pursuing candidates who faked a university education when it was a requirement, senior PML-N official Ahsan Iqbal said: "the irony is that the dictator who faked the constitution is freely roaming in the country".

"If no action is taken against him, then it would be like taking punitive action against the corruption of lower functionaries and turning a blind eye to the corruption of big shots," he added.

On Friday, Musharraf's nomination papers were rejected in Kasur, an agricultural and industrial town in Punjab province, a local court official told AFP by telephone.

Two lawyers disputed that Musharraf was not suitable to stand office and argued that he had violated the constitution by imposing emergency rule in 2007.

Aasia Ishaque, information secretary for Musharraf's All Pakistan Muslim League, said the ruling would be challenged.

Musharraf has also applied to run in Karachi, his home town, Islamabad, where he has a farm house, and Chitral, a mountain region on the Afghan border.