ISLAMABAD, Sept 24: As part of its challenge to President Pervez Musharraf’s election, the lawyers’ community on Monday nominated a retired Supreme Court judge, Wajihuddin Ahmad, as its candidate in the Oct 6 presidential election.
“Justice (retd) Wajihuddin Ahmad will file his nomination before the Election Commission by Thursday,” announced a former chief of the Supreme Court Bar Association, Tariq Mehmood, at the Supreme Court building.
Tariq Mehmood was in the forefront of the campaign by the lawyers’ community for the restoration of Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry.
Justice Wajihuddin had refused to take the oath of allegiance to a provisional constitution order (PCO) in 2001. The President of the Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA), Munir Malik, was quoted as saying after the announcement that Justice Wajihuddin was the first judge to resist the Musharraf-led military rule.
On Thursday, Munir Malik, Aitzaz Ahsan, Hamid Khan and Ali Ahmed Kurd had dropped hints that the fraternity would field a contender for the presidency. They had also said the lawyers planned to lay siege to the offices of the Election Commission and to hold demonstrations across the country on Sept 29 to register opposition to the presidential election.
Justice Wajihuddin is the second candidate to have come to the fore. Earlier, Dr Anwarul Haq, a pathologist, had said he would contest the election. Prof Haq is among the petitioners who have filed a petition with the Supreme Court against the president’s dual office.
Tariq Mehmood parried a question about the names of those who would propose and second the candidature of Justice Wajihuddin.
“Perhaps this is not the time to divulge their names, but two senators have assured us that they would propose and second our candidate,” Mr Mehmood said. “The consent of the judge has already been sought.”
Mr Mehmood was confident about the success of Justice Wajihuddin.
“If the rule of law is to prevail, the candidature of President Musharraf is bound to be rejected by the Election Commission and so would be the papers of other candidates. Thus Wajihuddin Ahmed will be successful.”
The real intention behind fielding Justice Wajihuddin is to raise objections against the candidature of President Musharraf as only a candidate could challenge the nomination of another candidate, Mr Mehmood added.
Justice Wajihuddin told DAWN NEWS TV that it was his national obligation to contest the election. “This is something you cannot refuse.”
He said he had not been in touch with any political party and had no illusions. He also said he was ready to hold a debate with President Musharraf on national issues.
“At least the ball has been made to roll. We need a person who could stand up before Gen Musharraf.”