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PML-N rejects Zardari's decision, Pak crisis continues
Rezaul H Laskar in Islamabad
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March 14, 2009 23:09 IST
Last Updated: March 14, 2009 23:57 IST

The Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz led by Nawaz Sharif [Images] on Saturday night rejected President Asif Ali Zardari [Images] government's decision, to move a review petition in the Supreme Court, against the apex court's order barring the Sharif brothers from contesting elections and holding public offices.  

"As far as the review petition is concerned, we do not recognise these courts, the chief justice of these courts because these courts are unconstitutional. These courts have been established by Pervez Musharraf [Images] through an emergency order. Therefore, they do not have constitutional position," PML-N spokesman Siddiq Al Farooq said.

Under intense pressure from the United States and amidst escalating political standoff at home, the Pakistan government had decided to challenge the disqualification of Nawaz Sharif and his brother Shahbaz from contesting elections, in a move seen as an attempt to defuse the crisis.

On a day of hectic developments, in what looked like a compromise with the estranged ally, the government of President Asif Ali Zardari decided to move the Supreme Court with a review petition challenging the apex court's decision barring the Sharif brothers from contesting elections and holding public offices. Shahbaz was unseated as the chief minister of Punjab province and Governor's rule imposed there by the Zardari government.

The government's package of concessions to main opposition leader Nawaz Sharif came in the wake of a telephone call, from US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton [Images] to Zardari, when she told him that Washington wanted to see stability and democracy strengthened in Pakistan.

"The federal government will file a review petition in the Supreme Court against the verdict of the Supreme Court disqualifying Nawaz Sharif and Shahbaz Sharif from electoral politics," said a statement issued by presidential spokesman Farhatullah Babar.

The PML-N had pulled out of an alliance with the Pakistan People's Party last year after accusing Zardari of reneging on several promises to restore the judges. The statement said the Prime Minister had taken all alliance partners of Pakistan People's Party into confidence on the decisions made by him and Zardari.

Gilani telephoned Awami National party chief Asfandyar Wali Khan, Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam leader Fazlur Rahman, Muttahida Qaumi Movement leader Altaf Hussain and others.

Following the Supreme Court's disqualification of the Sharif brothers from electoral politics on February 25, Zardari had imposed Governor's Rule in Punjab, which was ruled by the PML-N, drawing sharp reaction from the Sharif brothers, who accused Zardari of influencing the court's verdict against them and packing the judiciary with the President's hand-picked judges.

They also threw their weight behind a 'Long March' launched by lawyers on March 12 to pressure the government to reinstate the sacked judges.

Despite a crackdown on the 'Long March', the Sharif brothers vowed to lead the protest to Islamabad [Images] and to stage a sit-in near Parliament. The government had said it would not allow the protestors to enter the federal capital, setting the stage for a possible confrontation between the two sides.

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