Pakistan Court Order Bars Sharif From Leading Ruling Party

Updated on
  • Verdict comes about five months before national elections
  • Sharif was barred from office last July following graft probe

Nawaz Sharif

Photographer: Krisztian Bocsi/Bloomberg

Pakistan’s Supreme Court ruled that disqualified politicians cannot lead a party, a verdict that will stop former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif heading the nation’s ruling group months before elections.

The decision was taken on Wednesday by the 3-member court in Islamabad, which ruled that under the constitution a disqualified politician is “debarred from holding the position of party head.” It also nullified any decisions made by Sharif as party president, including candidate tickets in his name, putting into question Senate elections due March and a by-election victory that went in his party’s favor this month.

The ruling was the latest to go against Sharif. He was barred from office last July by the court following a corruption probe into his family’s finances, but then re-elected by his party as president of the ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz. Across Pakistan’s cities Sharif’s face dominates his party’s campaign posters, despite the graft charges against him, which he has consistently denied.

The verdict comes about five months before scheduled national polls that Sharif and his opponents have already started campaigning for. Following the court’s decision, Information Minister Marriyum Aurangzeb said Sharif will name a new PML-N president, but that he will continue to lead the party, without elaborating.

(Updates with minister comments in last paragraph.)
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