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Pakistani Presidential Election Awaits Court Ruling

Pakistan awaited a Supreme Court ruling on whether President Pervez Musharraf, who won Saturday's unofficial vote, can still run while serving as Army chief. A regional expert provides an update on the power struggle.

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  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    More political uncertainty and confusion in the South Asian nation of Pakistan. Margaret Warner has that story.

  • MARGARET WARNER:

    Pakistan’s president, Pervez Musharraf, won a third term this weekend with 98 percent of the parliamentary vote, but some 40 percent of the eligible electors boycotted.

  • PAKISTANI CITIZEN:

    This seems to be the most controversial election in the history of Pakistan.

  • MARGARET WARNER:

    And the results won’t be official until the Supreme Court decides whether he was eligible to run at all. Musharraf’s opponents asked the court to declare it unconstitutional for him to be re-elected while still serving as army chief.

    Hundreds of lawyers demonstrated across the country this weekend to protest the election. Musharraf has pledged to voluntarily vacate his army post by November 15th, the day his current term expires. He spoke to reporters on Saturday night.

  • JOURNALIST:

    If the Supreme Court rules against you after 17th of October, will you step down?

  • PERVEZ MUSHARRAF, President of Pakistan:

    Well, let’s come to the decision, and then we’ll decide. Let them come to their decision first.

  • MARGARET WARNER:

    Just before the election, Musharraf granted amnesty on pending corruption charges to former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, clearing the way for her to return from exile to lead her Pakistan People’s Party in new parliamentary elections due before January 15th.

    Today, Musharraf, who’s been the object of several assassination attempts, had another brush with fate. As his entourage flew to Kashmir, one of his escort helicopters crashed, killing four. But an army spokesman ruled out foul play, blaming the crash on technical problems.

    And for more, we turn to Steve Coll, president of the New America Foundation, a nonpartisan think-thank in Washington. He’s also a staff writer for the New Yorker magazine. He reported from South Asia for the Washington Post in the early 1990s.

    And, Steve, welcome back.

  • STEVE COLL, Staff Writer, The New Yorker:

    Good to see you, Margaret.

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