Pak top court bars Nawaz Sharif from heading his party

Frederick Owens
February 22, 2018

The Chief Justice said it was mandatory for a party head to fulfill the requirements of Articles 62 and 63 (related to qualification and disqualification for membership of parliament), as a party head is powerful and political parties control the government.

Nawaz Sharif does not depend on the presidency of the party, Chaudhry added, saying the disqualified leader will still take all decisions and hand out party tickets "till the PML-N exists".

The judgment brushed aside the controversial Election Act 2017 which after being passed by both Houses of the Parliament past year had paved the way for Nawaz Sharif to head the ruling PML-N after the Supreme Court's verdict on July 28, 2017 in Panama Papers Case deprived him the membership of the National assembly as well as the premiership. The Panama Papers judgment had also made Sharif ineligible to head his party.

In January 2018, the court had accepted petitions against Election Act 2017.

Journalist and author Zahid Hussain, while speaking to DawnNews, said Sharif's ineligibility to remain PML-N chief does not mean he will no longer have any influence over the party.

Similarly, when former military ruler Pervaiz Musharraf imposed restrictions on the PPP, a new party called PPP-Parliamentarians was created, but the decisions for that party were also taken by Benazir Bhutto.

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"The bill was passed in the NA by the vote of all parties and can only be annulled if is contradictory to basic rights", he said.

"Such a decision was obvious to come in support of an earlier weak court order which disqualified the most popular prime minister", she said. It was passed by both Houses of Parliament despite the bone of contention being its Section 203, which allowed the former PM to hold office as PML-N president. The five-judge larger bench of the Supreme Court headed by Justice Asif Saeed Khosa and comprising Justices Ejaz Afzal Khan, Gulzar Ahmed, Sheikh Azmat Saeed and Ijazul Ahsan unanimously announced the decision in Courtroom No. 1.

Sharif is also being tried by a separate anti-corruption court on other charges - proceedings ordered by the Supreme Court last July - and could face jail when that trial winds up as soon as next month.

However, he complained that had a section of the judiciary shared same views about the Constitution, democracy would not have suffered in Pakistan for the past 70 years.

But a former official for the election commission said election authorities can reschedule elections. He said the criticism of judiciary by the incumbent primer was unlawful.

"The verdict is biased, and only one person and family is being targeted", the minister said.

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