Pakistan Supreme Court order barring PML-N leaders Nawaz Sharif and Shahbaz Sharif from contesting polls has struck a major blow to the democratic process and set the stage for a confrontation that the country can ill afford, the country's leading newspapers said on Thursday.
"One year after democracy was ushered in and stood before a wondering public, its battered body has been wheeled into the hospital, bleeding from any number of wounds," The News daily said in an editorial titled 'Instability Rules'.
"We are back in the territory we were in, in the early nineties, and with many of the same figures on stage. The hope that was there a year ago has faded... And the potential for significant civil disruption is lurking close by... RIP, democracy. It was good while it lasted," the edit said.
The apex court on Wednesday barred former premier Nawaz Sharif for contesting polls and set aside his brother Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharifs election.
Under the judgement, both brothers cannot hold public office. Hours after the court's ruling, President Asif Ali Zardari imposed Governor's Rule in the politically crucial Punjab province.
The News said the decision to declare Sharif brothers ineligible for contesting polls was "almost a foregone conclusion" and that the next month would be a difficult month for the Pakistan People's Party-led federal government.