Pakistan’s National Assembly convened over Sharif crisis

February 27th, 2009 - 4:49 pm ICT by IANS  

Nawaz SharifIslamabad, Feb 27 (IANS) The Pakistan government has convened a session of the National Assembly Saturday to discuss the crisis arising from the Supreme Court decision barring former prime minister Nawaz Sharif and his brother Shahbaz Sharif from contesting elections.

The federal cabinet took the decision at a meeting here Friday.

The session has been convened at a time when the protests against the court decision and the imposition of Governor’s Rule in Punjab appeared to be gaining momentum.

Political observers believe the session could be stormy.

It is unprecedented for Pakistan’s National Assembly to meet on a Saturday.

President Asif Ali Zardari’s allies - religious leader Maulana Fazl-ur-Rehman and Awami National Party leader Asfandyar Wali Khan - held talks with other political leaders to resolve the crisis.

Both leaders had earlier criticised the court verdict. Rehman had also called on Zardari Thursday.

The Supreme Court Wednesday upheld last year’s Lahore High Court verdict that disqualified Nawaz Sharif because of his conviction in a case concerning his attempts to block the landing here of a plane carrying Musharraf, who was then the army chief. Musharraf subsequently overthrew Sharif in a bloodless coup in October 1999.

Sharif’s younger brother Shahbaz Sharif was disqualified on grounds of tax evasion and bank loan default. The decision led to the collapse of his Punjab provincial government.

The electoral disqualification of the Sharif brothers has widened the simmering rift between President Zardari and Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani.

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