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Pakistan's Supreme Court bars ousted PM Nawaz Sharif from leading PML-N

22 February 2018

The Supreme Court of Pakistan on Wednesday disqualified former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif as the president of Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz) or PML-N.

Law expert S.M. Zafar, while talking to DawnNews, said that, legally at least, the apex court's decision is in accordance with the Constitution because a person who is not eligible to be a National Assembly member should not be party chief.

The apex court on January 1 declared as maintainable the petitions challenging the act, a part of which has paved the way for the deposed premier Nawaz Sharif to head his party after his disqualification on July 28, 2017, in the Panama Papers case.

Despite the fact that the Supreme Court's short order consists of only nine paragraphs, it has already put the upcoming Senate elections in jeopardy. It citied articles 62 and 63 of the Pakistani Constitution, which state that a disqualified individual can not lead a party, Pakistan Today reported.

It said that all decisions taken by Sharif in his capacity as party chief stand null and void.

According to a copy of the verdict issued by the court, a three-member bench of the court headed by Chief Justice of Pakistan Mian Saqib Nisar gave the decision while hearing petitions against the Elections Act 2017 passed by the parliament, which paved the way for Sharif to resume his position as chief of the ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) following his disqualification from the public office a year ago.

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Sanaullah was of the view that he will be better equipped to comment upon the decision once the court issues a detailed judgement but thinks that such court judgments don't have retrospective effect so Nawaz Sharif's decision as PML-N head won't be effected.

Despite the numerous court rulings against the PML-N, the party has won a string of recent by-elections proving it will likely remain a force in the next elections.

Under the old act, a person disqualified from holding public office was also barred from leading a political party.

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

The Punjab law minister said the party will "follow the line determined by Nawaz". The standoff was ended by the military, which removed both of them from office in 1999.

Pakistan's Supreme Court bars ousted PM Nawaz Sharif from leading PML-N