Supreme Court, Pakistan: Sharif Brothers can contest elections
Supreme Court of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan on Tuesday lifted a ban on Sharif Brothers which means that now they are eligible to contest elections and hold office. Sharif Brothers, Nawaz Sharif and Shahbaz Sharif, were previously disqualified by the Lahore High Court to contest elections, a move that sparked mass protests in the country and resulted in huge changes in the country's political scenario including the reinstatement of Chief Justice of Pakistan.
Supreme Court of Pakistan on Tuesday lifted a ban on opposition leader and former prime minister Nawaz Sharif holding office and contesting elections, his lawyer said.
‘The judgement is that the order... disqualifying Shahbaz Sharif and Nawaz Sharif has been set aside,’ said Ashtar Ausaf, a lawyer for the brothers.
The Supreme Court verdict was given by a five-member bench headed by Justice Tassadaq Hussain Jilani.
The Supreme Court said the Lahore High Court (LHC) decision in the case of Sharif brothers was inconsistent, adding that Nawaz Sharif's 1999 presidential pardon requires deeper inquiry to determine whether the pardon was conditional.
A February 25 decision of the LHC to disqualify Sharif and his brother Shahbaz — chief minister of Punjab province — from contesting elections and holding office sparked mass protests in March.
The government appealed against the ban and agreed to reinstate Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry, bowing to a key demand from Sharif, leader of the Pakistan Muslim League-N party.
‘The previous verdict was not accepted by people. Today's verdict has been accepted by the majority of the nation,’ Sharif told a press conference.
‘States and countries prosper on the basis of justice and fair play. We want the rule of law and I salute the Pakistani nation as they secured the independence of the judiciary through their own struggle.’
Noisy supporters gathered outside the Islamabad courtroom, carrying posters of Sharif, who has become Pakistan's most popular politician as President Asif Ali Zardari's approval rating plummets.
Zardari's Pakistan People's Party won elections in February last year months after the assassination of Benazir Bhutto, but his popularity declined.
The government's March 16 promise to put Iftikhar Chaudhry back in office saw Sharif call off a mass protest march on the capital and raised hopes of ending the debilitating political crisis in the country.
The Supreme Court had on March 31 suspended the ban on Shahbaz Sharif, but that decision had to clear a final legal hurdle on Tuesday.
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