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Pakistan Govt to challenge Sharif verdict

world Updated: Jun 25, 2008 01:17 IST
Kamal Siddiqi

Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani's government has announced that it will challenge on Monday's decision by the Lahore High Court to bar PML-N leader Mian Nawaz Sharif from contesting by-elections.

The Lahore High Court on Monday also referred the election of Sharif's younger brother, sitting Punjab CM Shahbaz Sharif to an election tribunal.

Law Minister Farooq Naik told the parliament on Tuesday that the government would take up the case of Nawaz Sharif and Shahbaz Sharif. “We will appeal in the Supreme Court. Let us not talk about the merits of the LHC decision,” Naik later told newsmen.

The decision by the Lahore High Court to bar PML-N leader Mian Nawaz Sharif from contesting by-elections is being seen as a move by the pro-Musharraf lobby to cut Sharif down to size, say political observers. “It is an unfortuante attempt at trying to create mischief,” said Muhammad Rafiq, a Lahore based politician belonging to the PML-N party. The spokesman for the ruling PPP, Senator Farhatullah Babar termed it a “unfortunate development.”

PML-N leaders have been on the rampage and have attacked the Gilani government by insinuating that it had some part in the ruling. “We cannot be convinced that this was done on its own. We want to know who is in-charge of running the government. It seems that there is a crisis of leadership,” commented Chaudhry Nisar, a senior PML-N leader.

PML N leaders say that this decision comes from judges it has been fighting to have removed. “It is a clear case of victimisation. This is a miscarriage of justice by the PCO judges,” PML leader Khawaja Saad Rafiq, told journalists on Tuesday.

In the face of this decision, both Mian Nawaz Sharif and his younger brother Mian Shahbaz Sharif who is Chief Minister of Punjab, have said that they would not appeal to the decision to the Supreme Court and neither would they present themselves before the Election Tribunal.

When asked, Shahbaz Sharif said “they may cut us up into little pieces but we will still not bend before these judges. We do not accept these judges and we will continue to fight against them.” When asked whether he will be willing to leave his position as chief minister of Punjab, Pakistan's most populous province, Shahbaz Sharif replied in the affirmative. He told newsmen, “no sacrifice is great for the cause of justice.”