Sharif barred from contesting by-election

June 23rd, 2008 - 9:31 pm ICT by IANS  

A file-photo of Nawaz Sharif
By Muhammad Najeeb
Lahore, June 23 (IANS) Former Pakistani prime minister Nawaz Sharif was Monday disqualified by the Lahore High Court (LHC) from contesting this week’s by-elections even as his party alleged the ruling was based on a “conspiracy”. The full bench of the high court in its short order said that Sharif, who heads the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), cannot contest the polls as he was convicted in a plane hijacking case risking the life of President Pervez Musharraf and about 200 other passengers who were returning home from Sri Lanka.

“The decision is based on a conspiracy. It’s a political decision and we have to see who is behind this,” PML-N spokesman Siddiqul Farooq told IANS. He said Sharif would address a press conference soon.

Sharif returned to the country from exile last December to lead his party in the February general elections but he was barred from contesting the polls.

However, the Election Commission cleared him to contest the by-polls due Thursday.

His younger brother Shahbaz Sharif, who is chief minister of Punjab, was allowed to contest the elections. The high court Monday allowed him conditionally to continue in power until his case is decided by it.

Earlier, Sharif’s party released an audio tape of a conversation between former Punjab chief minister and PML-N dissident Pervez Elahi and a judge who is heard saying that Sharif would not be allowed to contest the polls.

Sharif openly accused Chief Justice of Pakistan Abdul Hameed Dogar to be behind the plot to bar him from contesting the polls.

Sharif has refused to plead his case in front of the judges who had been appointed by President Musharraf.

Musharraf, then army chief, overthrew Sharif’s elected government in a coup in October 1999 and put him in jail. A year later he sent Sharif along with entire family into exile to Saudi Arabia.

Sharif managed to return home in December and has been campaigning for Musharraf’s impeachment by parliament and removal of the judges appointed by the president in November after he imposed emergency in the country.

In the February polls, Sharif’s party won the second highest number of seats and has been in the ruling coalition along with the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP).

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