ISLAMABAD - The Pakistani government’s appeal against a Supreme Court judgement barring opposition leader Nawaz Sharif and his brother from contesting elections has taken on a political hue with the duo undecided on whether they should assist the court in the proceedings.
At issue is the composition of a bench that will begin the hearings Monday.
‘Petitions to become party are ready, but decision to file them depends on composition of the larger bench. If a majority on the bench is of judges who took oath under the Provisional Constitution Order, the petitions will not be filed,’ Dawn Friday quoted a source in Sharif’s Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) as saying.
Then president Pervez Musharraf had promulgated the PCO along with the emergency he had imposed Nov 3, 2007. However, Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry and the entire Supreme Court bench refused to take fresh oath under the order.
The bench was summarily dismissed and a new set of judges installed. Now, with Chaudhry and the previous judges reinstated, the previous bench still continues.
Thus, the Sharif brother’s perhaps apprehend that if there are a greater number of PCO judges, their case could be weakened.
If the petitions are filed, renowned lawyer Abid Hasan Minto will represent Nawaz Sharif and former advocate general of Punjab Khawaja Haris will appear for Shahbaz Sharif.
Citing corruption charges, the Supreme Court had Feb 25 barred the Sharif brothers from contesting elections and holding public office.
The decision led to the collapse of Shahbaz Sharif’s government in Punjab and the imposition of governor’s rule in the province.
Nawaz Sharif then made this one of the issues of a previously-planned lawyers’ ‘long march’ to Islamabad to demand the restoration of the judges Musharraf had sacked.
After initially talking tough, the government buckled in Feb 16 and gave in to both demands.