Nawaz Sharif disqualified as Pakistan Muslim League president by SC

Nawaz Sharif

In a judgement that will have longstanding implications for the political fabric of Pakistan, the Supreme Court on Wednesday unequivocally ruled that a person disqualified under Articles 62 and 63 of the Constitution can not serve as the head of a political party.

However, the legal hurdle in his way to become party chief was cleared on Monday when the National Assembly passed a controversial Election Bill 2017 that allows politicians disqualified from holding public office to head a political party.

Pakistan's former prime minister Nawaz Sharif in Islamabad in Pakistan in 2017.

A three-member bench headed by Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar and comprising Justice Umer Ata Bandial and Justice Ijazul Ahsen heard the petitions, challenging section 203 of the Elections Act 2017, which had allowed a disqualified person to be a party office bearer.

Marriyum Aurangzeb said the Supreme Court's verdict was continuation of Panama's verdict.

"My understanding is that the candidates can still contest but as independent and not as Nawaz Sharif's party ticket holders", Chaudhry said.

Pakistan's Interior Ministry rejected on Tuesday last week's request by anti-corruption authorities to impose a travel ban on former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and his family members. The SC of Pakistan stated that all decision made by him as head of the party stands null and void.

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The judgement also put the Senate election, scheduled for March 3, under a cloud.

PPP leader Qamar Zaman Kaira said the SC decision should not be taken as against Sharif or linked with his disqualification earlier.

Sharif has said his removal from office was part of a political conspiracy against him, and his party and the judiciary have engaged in an escalating war of words.

Addressing the Pakistan Peoples Party counsel Latif Khosa during the hearing, the chief justice remarked that there would be a difference in rallies held by you or [slain party leader and former prime minister] Benazir Bhutto.

"Sharif can not be pulled out of the people's heart through court decisions", he also said.

"Whoever wants to be in the party will have to accept Nawaz as final authority", he said.

Constitutional lawyer Farogh Nasim said the ruling could also affect midterm Senate elections next month.

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