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Archive for June 23rd, 2008

By(e)-By(e) Nawaz?

On Monday, media outlets reported that a high court in Lahore disqualified former Prime Minister and PML-N leader Nawaz Sharif from contesting in this week’s by-election. According to Reuters, “Sharif was barred from the general election in February because he had been convicted for the hijacking of then army chief General Pervez Musharraf’s plane in 1999. But he was later cleared to contest the by-polls due on Thursday.” However, today, Sharif’s party spokesman Siddiqul Farooq told the news agency that the PML-N leader was barred once again “based on conspiracy.” Farooq added, “It’s a political decision.” Another Sharif spokesman “said the Lahore High Court ruled on Monday that Sharif was disqualified from running in the election because he had been convicted of a crime.”

Although Nawaz will undoubtedly appeal the verdict, the disqualification still marks a political setback for this former PM’s journey back to the Parliament. Moreover, the outrage that will certainly follow from his party supporters could potentially be destablizing to the country. [Image from Reuters]

 UPDATE [1345 EST]: The Associated Press, in an updated newswire, reported about 100 PML-N supporters in Multan have already burned tires in the street following Monday’s announcement that Sharif was barred from running in Thursday’s by-election. PML-N spokesman Ahsan Iqbal said the ruling made Pakistan look like a “banana republic,” and criticized the PPP and Asif Ali Zardari, asserting, “[The PPP] could let the courts continue to play mockery with democracy in this country, continue to play mockery with the fundamental rights of the citizens of Pakistan.” According to Nasim Zehra, an analyst and fellow at Harvard University’s Asia Center, the ruling raised questions about the independence of the court, which could work to Sharif’s benefit, and added, “The net effect of this will be more pressure on Zadari and the PPP to restore the judiciary.”

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