Pakistan Officials Using Religious Rules to Block Candidates

The constitution requires that a candidate be a "good Muslim of integrity and honesty"


Dozens of candidates, including the former military ruler Pervez Musharraf, have been excluded from some constituencies in the coming Pakistani elections after being subjected by officials to a rigorous test of their religious credentials and "moral character" under a rarely invoked constitutional clause.

Musharraf, who ruled Pakistan between 1999 and 2008, returned to the country last month after nearly four years in self-imposed exile in a bid to relaunch his political career.

The exact reasoning behind the election commission's decision to bar him from the polls in Kasur in Punjab province was unclear last night. However, Musharraf remains a deeply divisive figure, detested by many conservatives and lawyers. The former commando also faces a variety of serious criminal charges against him, including murder, and could now face disqualification in the three other constituencies where he plans to run.