Pakistan's Supreme Court disqualifies Nawaz Sharif to head political party

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The Supreme Court of Pakistan on Wednesday disqualified former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to be chief of the country's ruling party, saying that a person who is not eligible to hold a public office cannot head a party.

Pakistani former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. [File photo]

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 last year.

"Ineligible person cannot hold the office of party presidency," the court said.

At least 16 petitions were filed by different political parties and individuals, including the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf, Awami Muslim League and Pakistan People's Party, against the parliament's legislation that allowed a disqualified person to lead a party.

The court, which started hearing the case last month, said all the decisions made by Sharif as the president of the ruling PML-N would also stand null and void.

The chief justice said a person who is disqualified under the Constitution of the country is not eligible to sign on any document that is needed to nominate someone to the National Assembly or Senate.

The court ordered the Election Commission of Pakistan to remove Sharif as head of the PML-N and ordered that "all steps taken, orders passed, directions given and documents issued" by him since his disqualification as prime minister last year "are also declared to have never been taken, passed, given or issued in the eyes of the law."

Following the decision, the elections of Pakistan's Senate to be conducted on March 3, 2018, are also likely to be affected by the apex court's decision.

Hashmat Habib, a senior advocate of the supreme court, said that the candidates of the PML-N are not eligible now to contest the Senate elections, because, with the judgment, the tickets issued by Sharif for the Senate elections are also illegal now.

Shahbaz Sharif, the younger brother of Nawaz Sharif and chief minister of eastern Punjab province, is likely to take over as the president of the PML-N, local media reported. 

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