Islamabad, Apr 13 (PTI) Pakistan’s ousted prime minister Nawaz Sharif was today barred from contesting elections for life, after the Supreme Court ruled that the disqualification of a lawmaker under the Constitution is permanent, a landmark verdict ending the political future of the three-time premier.
The verdict was issued unanimously by all five judges of the bench while hearing a petition related to determination of time duration for disqualification of a lawmaker under the Constitution.
The court had grappled with Article 62(1)(f) which only stated that a lawmaker is disqualified under specified conditions but did not set out the duration of the disqualification.
Article 62, which sets the precondition for a member of parliament to be “sadiq and ameen” (honest and righteous), is the same provision under which Sharif was disqualified on July 28, 2017, in the Panama Papers case.
The court later also disqualified Sharif as head of the ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz.
In today verdict, the SC =said that under the country’s Constitution, no person once disqualified from office by the top court can hold public office again.
The historic ruling ended 68-year-old Sharif’s hopes for a political future.
Likewise, Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) leader Jahangir Tareen was disqualified on December 15 last year by a separate bench of the apex court under the same provision.
Following the verdict, both Sharif and Tareen have become ineligible to ever hold public office.
The verdict read out by Justice Umar Ata Bandial said the disqualification of any member of parliament or a public servant under Article 62 (1)(f) in the future will be permanent. Such a person cannot contest elections or become a member of parliament.
A five-judge bench on February 14 had reserved the judgement on 17 appeals and petitions challenging the length of disqualification under the Article 62.
Sharif in January had stated through a written statement before the bench that disqualification under Article 62 is confined only to the election in question, and it is not perpetual.
The court had clubbed 17 petitions together to determine the duration of disqualification of lawmakers.
State Minister for Information Marriyum Aurangzeb dismissed the ruling as a “joke”.
“This joke has already been played on previous premiers and all 17 prime ministers of Pakistan have faced a similar fate,” she said.
“This decision is similar to the Supreme Court rulings which took former prime minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto to the gallows and led to the assassination of Benazir Bhutto, the information minister told reporters.
Marriyum said that time and again, democratically elected leaders of Pakistan are unceremoniously removed from their post.
She said, “Decisions against Sharif are made first and trials are conducted later.” “The verdict has started a phase of Sharif’s politics which our enemies should be afraid of,” the information minister added.
Sharif, known as the Lion of Punjab, became the prime minister in the politically unstable Pakistan for a record three times, but every-time he was forced to quit in the middle of his term.
A steel tycoon-cum-politician, Sharif had served as the Prime Minister for the first time from 1990 to 1993.
Sharif’s second term as Prime Minister from 1997 ended in 1999 when then powerful Army chief Pervez Musharraf staged a bloodless coup.
Both of Sharif’s first two stints had ended in the third year of his tenure.
In 2013 general elections, Sharif’s centre-right Pakistan Muslim League-N (PML-N) had emerged as the single largest party falling just short of a majority. But, he was able to muster the required strength within days as many independents came forward to support him.
This is published unedited from the PTI feed.