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Former Pak PM allowed to contest by-election
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08:30, June 02, 2008

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Pakistan's Election Commission Sunday allowed former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to contest a seat in the parliament.

The commission said that it also allowed Shehbaz Sharif, younger brother of Nawaz Sharif to contest a provincial assembly seat.

A two-member election tribunal failed Saturday to agree on whether Sharif can take part in the by-election as one judge backing Sharif and the other opposing him.

The two-member bench of high court judges was supposed to deliver a verdict Saturday if Sharif would be allowed to stand in the election. But the two judges were divided and the matter was referred to the chief election commissioner.

Sharif, who was banned from taking part in the February elections because of criminal convictions, has filed papers to take part in the by-elections on a parliament seat from Lahore, the capital of eastern Punjab province.

By-elections, for seats left vacant either because a candidate died or because a politician won in more than one constituency, are planned in June.

Sharif's nomination papers were challenged on the plea that he was convicted by courts on variety of charges after he was overthrown in 1999 by the then general Pervez Musharraf.

Sharif refused to fight the case in the court as he refused to appear before those judges who took oath under an interim order issued by President Musharraf when he proclaimed emergency in November, 2007.

Both Sharif and his brother, Shahbaz, have filed nomination papers to run in the by- election.

Sharif's Pakistan Muslim League-N (PML-N) party captured the second most number of votes in the Feb. 18 parliamentary elections and has also formed the government in Pakistan's biggest Punjab province.

PML-N quit the coalition with slain leader Benazir Bhutto's Pakistan People's Party (PPP) after the PPP did not agree to restore the chief justice and 60 other top judges removed by Musharraf in the emergency rule.

Sharif has accused Musharraf of trying to block his entry into the parliament.

Last December, the election commission of Pakistan rejected Sharif's application to take part in the Feb. 18 parliamentary races. As its reason, the commission cited Sharif's criminal record that dates back to the late 1990s.


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