By Sarah Akhtar
General Pervez Musharraf successfully attained reelection on October 6 as Pakistan’s president in a landslide victory, receiving 252 of 257 parliamentary votes2. Despite the perceived dubiousness of the election process (Pakistan’s Parliament is filled with Musharraf’s supporters due to the rigging of the 2002 elections), Musharraf will assume the Presidency unless thwarted by the Supreme Court. The Court must rule on whether it was legal for Musharraf to seek election while he was still army chief1.
With his election, the judiciary now finds itself in a precarious position. It can declare Musharraf’s victory unconstitutional, maintaining its legitimacy in the eyes of the public, but risking an attack by the military on its sovereignty as a legitimate institution. Or the Court can bow to Musharraf’s pressures, allowing it to stand as an institution, but losing its credibility, which the Chief Justice has fought so hard to maintain. Given the Court ruled the day before elections that electoral process could proceed, I predict it will take the latter course. If it does Musharraf has agreed to resign his post in the army and become a civilian leader1. Whatever the outcome, there can be no doubt that the Judiciary will have a vital role in determining the extent to which the Pakistani government will shift in its transition from military rule to a civil democracy.
Haider, Kamran. “Musharraf Set to Win Vote as Victory Hangs on Court.” Washington Post Online 6 Oct. 2007. Nation. 7 Oct. 2007.
“Musharraf Wins Presidential Vote.” BBC Online 6 Oct. 2007. South Asia. 7 Oct. 2007.