Pakistan Supreme Court Strikes Law Allowing Nawaz Sharif To Chair Party

The accountability court hearing the case is located inside the Federal Judicial Complex

Chief Justice of Pakistan Mian Saqib Nisar on Wednesday ruled that ousted prime minister Nawaz Sharif can not run Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) as the party president.

Following Nawaz's disqualification as prime minister in July 2017 in the Panama Papers case, the ruling party managed to amend the Constitution to allow the former premier to retain his chairmanship of the PML-N.

A three-member bench of the Supreme Court headed by Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar and comprising Justice Umer Ata Bandial and Justice Ijazul Ahsen was hearing into the petitions, challenging the controversial Election Act 2017. SC has also annulled all decisions made by Nawaz Sharif as the party head. It citied articles 62 and 63 of the Pakistani Constitution, which state that a disqualified individual can not lead a party, Pakistan Today reported.

Similarly, when former military ruler Pervaiz Musharraf imposed restrictions on the PPP, a new party called PPP-Parliamentarians was created, but the decisions for that party were also taken by Benazir Bhutto.

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The Chief Justice said that as a outcome, Senate tickets issued by Sharif were also declared void, throwing the fate of March 3 Senate elections in doubt.

PML-N leader Dr Tariq Chaudhry submitted Sharif's papers for party president in the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) while no one other candidate from the party contested the election.

After Sharifs disqualification as prime minister a year ago, the ruling PML-N amended the Constitution to allow him to retain his chairmanship of the party.

Ruling PML-N, analysts react to SC judgement that renders a disqualified person ineligible to hold party head's office.

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"How can a person who cannot even become a union councilor become a party chief?" he asked, alleging that the PML-N had tried to use parliament to pass a law (the Elections Act 2017) to suit their needs. It was passed from both houses of parliament despite the bone of contention being its Section 203 which allowed the ex-PM to hold office as PML-N president.

Former Punjab governor Shahid Hamid said that the judgment would have no consequences for Nawaz Sharif and he would keep calling the shots in the ruling party.

The judgement also put the Senate election, scheduled for March 3, under a cloud.

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