Pakistan SC Bars Sharif Brothers from Democratic Process

Pakistan Supreme Court on Wednesday quashed all petitions to disqualify former prime minister Nawaz Sharif, head of the country’s main Opposition party – PML (N), and his brother Shahbaz Sharif from contesting elections. The Sharif brothers refuse to acknowledge any decision passed by judges appointed by former president Pervez Musharraf after he clamped emergency in November 1997.

Following the court order forcing the ouster of Shahbaz Sharif, Salman Taseer has been named the new chief minister of Punjab.

Reports say there is widespread anguish over the decision and widespread protests that followed the order are likely to continue for weeks to come.

The decision comes at a time when Islamabad is reeling under tremendous internal and international pressures and is likely to heighten internal tensions in the Islamic state.

The Sharifs have been seeking reinstatement of judges ousted by Musharraf and have repeatedly refused to recognize any judges appointed by the latte during the emergency.

The SC decision follows a similar decree passed by a Lahore court last June that said the former premier was illegible to participate in the country’s fragile democratic process due to previous criminal convictions.

Nawaz, who was ousted from power by a bloodless coup led by Musharaf in 1999, is not a member of the Pakistani parliament or any of its Assemblies.

The PML(N) launched a stinging attack against the current power base in Islamabad led by Sharif’s former coalition partner President Asif Ali Zardari.

Reacting to the decision PML(N) spokesman Siddique al Faroooque said: “The judgment has been given at the directive of President Asif Ali Zardari, who was conspiring to get Sharif brothers disqualified.”

Farooque said the PML(N) will go to the people and seek public support against the Supreme Court verdict.

The estranged coalition partners had come together to oust Musharraf from office after the elections in February last, the clock started to tick on the alliance soon after Musharraf resigned as president of Pakistan in August 2008.

PML(N) pulled out of the ruling coalition a week later.

Venting anger against the PPP- co chair Zardari, Farooque said the decision proved that there was no difference between Zardari and Pervez Musharraf and at present Pakistan was under a “martial law in the country without uniform.”

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