Islamabad, Feb 25, 2009 – Pakistan’s Supreme Court on Wednesday disqualified ex-prime minister Nawaz Sharif, who heads the country’s largest opposition party, and his brother Shahbaz Sharif from contesting elections.
“All petitions have been dismissed by the Supreme Court,” said senior lawyer Akram Sheikh after three judges announced the order.
“Today’s judgement proved that the decision by Nawaz Sharif and his brother Shahbaz Sharif not to appear before the Supreme Court was right,” Sheikh told reporters outside the court, where there was a heavy security presence.
The Sharif brothers refuse to recognise any judge appointed by former president Pervez Musharraf after he declared emergency rule in November 2007.
Nawaz Sharif’s Pakistan Muslim League-N (PML-N) wants to reinstate judges sacked by Musharraf.
A court in the eastern city of Lahore ruled last June that Nawaz Sharif, ousted by Musharraf in a 1999 coup, was ineligible to stand in a by-election because of previous criminal convictions.
The current Pakistani government appealed the decision, after Sharif played a key role in beating Musharraf’s allies in elections in February 2008.
Wednesday’s court order will force Shahbaz Sharif, who is chief minister of Punjab, Pakistan’s most populous province, to step down from the post and resign from the provincial parliament.
Two-time prime minister Nawaz Sharif does not currently sit in parliament.
Sharif’s party criticised the decision.
“The judgement has been given at the directive of President Asif Ali Zardari, who was conspiring to get Sharif brothers disqualified,” party spokesman Siddique-ul-Farooque told AFP.
“We will now go to the people, who gave us their mandate in the February election despite Musharraf’s conspiracy to oust Nawaz Sharif and his younger brother from the electoral arena,” he said.
“It proves there is no difference between Asif Zardari and Pervez Musharraf and at present we have a martial law in the country without uniform.”