[JURIST] The Supreme Court of Pakistan [official website] on Friday ordered the release on bail of jailed opposition leader Javed Hashmi pending his appeal of his 2004 conviction [BBC report] for allegedly inciting mutiny in the armed forces, forgery and defamation by circulating an unsigned letter allegedly written by army officers opposed to President Pervez Musharraf and Pakistani military operations in Kashmir. Hashmi, the leader of the opposition Alliance for Restoration of Democracy and the Pakistan Muslim League-N [party website], was serving a 23 year prison term concurrently and was expected to be released in 2011.
The ruling, issued by a panel of three justices including Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry [official website; JURIST news archive], is seen as the latest setback to Musharraf's bid to extend his eight-year rule by another five years later this year. On Tuesday, Musharraf publicly accepted the judgment of the judiciary to reinstate the suspended chief justice, who resumed his duties [JURIST report] on the high court after it dismissed all charges of misconduct [order]. AP has more.