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Pakistan SC stays Sharifs' disqualification

Rezaul H Laskar in Islamabad, | March 31, 2009 15:08 IST

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The Pakistan Supreme Court on Tuesday stayed an earlier verdict disqualifying opposition leaders Nawaz and Shahbaz Sharif from electoral politics, paving the way for the restoration of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz government in the politically crucial Punjab province.

A five-member bench of the apex court headed by Justice Tassaduq Hussain suspended an apex court judgement of February 25 that that barred the Sharif brothers from contesting polls and holding elected office.

A large number of PML-N workers broke into impromptu celebrations outside the Supreme Court soon after the bench gave its order.

"Shahbaz Sharif has not only been declared a member of the Punjab assembly but he will also take charge of the post of Chief Minister again today," senior PML-N leader Raja Zafrul Haq told media persons outside the court.

"This is a victory for Pakistan, the democratic system and the leadership of Nawaz Sharif [Images]," Haq said.

"We are really very happy that the court has made a decision according to the constitution and the law of the land. Democracy will again be on the march," he added.

Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani [Images] congratulated Shahbaz Sharif on the restoration of the PML-N government in Punjab.

Senior PML-N leader Khwaja Asif, a close aide of the Sharif brothers, said the onus for improving relations between the federal government and the PML-N was now on the ruling Pakistan People's Party.

The PML-N would not be found wanting if the PPP worked with sincerity for national reconciliation, he said.

Following the apex court's earlier order barring the Sharif brothers from electoral politics, President Asif Ali Zardari [Images] imposed Governor's Rule in Punjab. The PML-N then joined the lawyers' movement in a countrywide protest that forced the federal government to reinstate judges who were sacked during the 2007 emergency.

Zardari was also persuaded by Gilani to end Governor's Rule in Punjab and the measure was withdrawn on Monday. The Punjab assembly is scheduled to meet on Wednesday. Though the session was earlier expected to elect a new Chief Minister, PML-N leaders said this would no longer be necessary as the apex court had stayed the order barring Shahbaz Sharif from electoral politics.

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