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Sharif brothers can contest by-polls: EC

Pakistan's Election Commission on Sunday allowed them to contest the by-polls to be held later this month.
PTI | By Rezaul H Laskar, Islamabad
UPDATED ON JUN 01, 2008 05:18 PM IST

In a major relief to former premier and PML-N chief Nawaz Sharif and his brother Shahbaz Sharif, Pakistan's Election Commission on Sunday allowed them to contest the by-polls to be held later this month.

The decision came a day after a two-member election tribunal gave a split verdict on the validity of their nomination papers and referred the matter to Chief Election Commissioner Qazi Muhammad Farooq.

The Election Commission upheld the initial decision by returning officers to accept the nominations filed by the Sharif brothers.

It also rejected the challenges to their candidature as the election tribunal did not decide on the challenges within the stipulated timeframe, state-run PTV reported.

Sharif, unable to contest the February 18 general election due to the rejection of his nomination papers on the ground that he was convicted in a criminal case, is seeking to enter parliament through the by-polls scheduled for June 26.

Shahbaz, who too could not participate in the polls in February, is contesting by-elections to the Punjab assembly. The PML-N has said he will be made chief minister of the province once he emerges victorious in the elections.

By-elections are planned for seats in the national and provincial assemblies that have become vacant either because a candidate died or because a politician won in more than one constituency in the February 18 polls.

The nomination papers of the Sharif brothers were challenged on the plea that they were convicted by courts on a variety of charges after Nawaz Sharif was deposed by General Pervez Musharraf in 1999.

The PML-N party captured the second highest number of votes in the February 18 parliamentary elections and also formed government in the politically crucial Punjab province.

The PML-N last month quit the cabinet of the Pakistan People's Party-led federal government after failing to achieve the restoration of dozens of judges deposed by Musharraf during last year's emergency rule.

Sharif has accused Musharraf of trying to block his entry into parliament. Sharif, who has been calling for Musharraf to be impeached, has alleged that the move to block his candidature in the by-polls is part of a conspiracy hatched by the Presidency.

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