Islamabad: Pakistani Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz on 27 September filed papers nominating President Pervez Musharraf to stand in an October 6 presidential election.
Aziz and other government and ruling party leaders filed the papers at the Election Commission, across an Islamabad avenue from the Supreme Court which is preparing to rule on challenges to army chief Musharraf’s bid for another term.
Pakistan faces months of uncertainty as US ally Musharraf tries to keep control of the nuclear-armed country whose support is seen as crucial to the success of Western efforts to stabilize Afghanistan and battle al Qaeda.
An alliance of opposition parties is demanding and end to military involvement in politics and the restoration of full democracy. It is hoping the Supreme Court will rule against Musharraf’s election bid.
“It’s a historic day for Pakistan,” Aziz told reporters at the Election Commission.
“President Pervez Musharraf is the candidate of the Pakistan Muslim League and its allies and we are fully confident that he will succeed and this will be very important for Pakistan and the region,” he said.
Security was tight in central Islamabad with a ring of police monitoring traffic passing through checkpoints and riot police standing by.
The court is hearing petitions challenging Musharraf’s right to retain the posts of president and army chief, the legality of being elected in uniform, and whether he can get a mandate from outgoing assemblies.
An electoral college made up of members of the National Assembly, Senate and provincial assemblies will take part in the presidential vote before they are dissolved for a general election due by mid-January.