Police baton-charge, teargas anti-Musharraf lawyers

Police baton-charge, teargas anti-Musharraf lawyers

Islamabad: Pakistani police used batons and teargas to disperse hundreds of lawyers protesting against President Pervez Musharraf’s candidacy in next week’s presidential election, an official said.

Several lawyers were injured and around a dozen arrested during the noisy protest outside the Election Commission as Musharraf’s nomination papers and those of other candidates were being scrutinised.

Around 900 lawyers gathered near the commission despite tight security and police road blocks.

Ranting the air with “Go Musharraf, go" the lawyers tried to approach the commission building from the Supreme Court but police blocked their way and scuffles broke out.

“Police beat up lawyers mercilessly and several of them were wounded," an AFP photogrpaher said.

The country’s Supreme Court on 28 September dismissed a petition challenging Musharraf’s right to contest the controversial election while he still heads the army.

Musharraf filed his nomination papers for the elections on Thursday and is almost certain to win, given that the election involves the national and provincial parliaments, in which his allies hold a majority.

Two rivals, a retired judge who refused to swear allegiance to Musharraf after the 1999 coup in which he seized power and a senior member of Benazir Bhutto’s Pakistan People’s Party, have also registered to run.