Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Pakistan continuing to dismantle Musharraf legacy

Word from Pakistan that the country's Supreme Court has lifted a ban on holding office imposed on two leading politicians, including a former prime minister, demonstrates a commitment to maintaining its restored democracy and undoing the eight-year legacy of Pervez Musharraf. Tuesday's ruling means Nawaz Sharif, the leader of the opposition Pakistan Muslim League-N who was deposed as prime minister in 1999 in a Musharraf-led military coup, can return to Parliament if he runs again and wins, according to the New York Times. The ruling also keeps Sharif's brother, Shahbaz Sharif, in his post as chief minister from Punjab Province. Shahbaz Sharif was forced to leave his post in February after the same Supreme Court ruling that barred Nawaz Sharif from holding office. But that ruling was stayed in March after nationwide protests by lawyers and others forced the reinstatement of Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, who had been suspended after refusing Musharraf's demand that he resign. Musharraf, a former commander of Pakistan's army, ruled the country for eight years before running for re-election in 2008 and losing to Asif Ali Zardari of the Pakistan Peoples Party. Musharraf now lives in London. After the Supreme Court ruling that cleared his return to politics, a triumphant Nawaz Sharif told a press conference at his home in Raiwind, near Lahore, that the country had never accepted the ruling that barred him. "Today, Pakistan will start moving in the right direction," he said, according to the Times. He said his government had been removed illegally in 1999 but was vague about his future plans, except to say he would run "when the right moment comes," the Times said.

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