High court lifts political ban on Sharifs

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan, May 26 (UPI) -- Former Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif is now free to run for Parliament and hold public office, the country's Supreme Court ruled Tuesday.

The reversal of the ban on Sharif, head of the Pakistan Muslim League-N along with his younger brother, Shahbaz Sharif, brought an official end to a political crisis triggered in February when the same court ruled the brothers were not qualified to hold public office, The New York Times reported.


That ruling, which held the Sharifs ineligible because of criminal convictions connected to the 1999 military coup carried out by former President Pervez Musharraf, brought thousands of Pakistanis into the streets in protest. Demonstrators contended the ruling was politically motivated to benefit President Asif Ali Zardari.

The crisis was ended when Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry was restored to the Supreme Court in March and Zardari indicated he also supported lifting the Sharifs' ban in the interest of "political reconciliation," the newspaper said.

"Very few people had accepted the last judgment," Nawaz Sharif told reporters at his residence in Raiwind, referring to the court's previous decision. "Today, Pakistan will start moving in the right direction."


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