Supreme Court defers election in Sharif’s constituency

By Muhammad Najeeb, IANS,

Islamabad : Pakistan’s Supreme Court Wednesday ordered that by-elections in Lahore constituency from where Nawaz Sharif was to contest be delayed following a Lahore High Court ruling that barred the former prime minister from contesting the poll.

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The government had filed an appeal with the Supreme Court to reverse the ban saying it was Sharif’s fundamental right to contest the polls.

The apex court while setting aside the high court decision issued notices to both the parties for June 30 for arguments on merits of the case.

Sharif, head of his own faction of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), returned to the country December last after eight years in exile to lead his party in February general elections.

The PML-N secured second position in the polls and is a coalition partner in the federal government with the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP). It also runs the provincial government of Punjab.

Sharif’s nomination was rejected in the February polls but was cleared for the by-polls scheduled for Thursday by the Election Commission. But on Monday the high court again barred him from the polls.

The Supreme Court bench, while admitting the petition, said they could have decided the case within minutes if Sharif had appeared in the court.

“Nawaz Sharif will not appear in the court as he does not accept the present judges,” PML-N spokesman Siddiqul Farooq told media persons.

Sharif had been saying he will not appear in front of the judges who took oath under provisional constitutional order in November last year when President Pervez Musharraf imposed emergency in the country and suspended more than 60 judges of the superior courts.