Nawaz Sharif ousted as PML-N chief: What next?

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WEB DESK: The much-awaited Election Act verdict is finally out. A three-member Supreme Court bench headed by Chief Justice Saqib Nisar has ousted former prime minister Nawaz Sharif as head of the ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N).

In a short five-page verdict on February 21, the apex court has declared that any person who is qualified under Article 62 or 63 of the Constitution is debarred from holding the position of ‘party head’ by whatever name called and prohibited from exercising any of the powers under any law.

“Such bar and prohibition shall commence from the date of disqualification and continue till such time that the lack of qualification/disqualification of such person continues in terms of the provisions of Articles 62 and 63 of the Constitution,” it said.

The apex court ruled that all steps taken, orders passed, directions given and documents issued by Nawaz Sharif as party head after his disqualification on July 28, 2017 are also declared to have never been taken, passed, given or issued in the eyes of the law.

Implementing the court orders, Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP), meanwhile, removed the name of Sharif as President/Party Head from its record.

While the verdict has been hailed as historic by opposition groups and petitioners, there has been mixed response from the PML-N, which sees the judgement as ‘victimisation’.

In a Twitter reaction, the outspoken PML-N leader Maryam Nawaz said Nawaz Sharif stands victorious.

“The supreme institutions of justice are not delivering verdicts against you, they are instead proving your truthful and standpoint,” she said.

While it was somewhat an expected outcome, the verdict has left many questions unanswered about the fate of decisions taken by the former three-time premier since being disqualified by the apex court on July 28, 2017.

Such decisions range from awarding of party tickets, for by-polls and Senate elections, to nod for appointment of officials on key government positions.

Recently in Punjab, PML-N won three by-elections in Lahore, Chitral and Lodhran, where party candidates would have undoubtedly been authorised by none other than Nawaz Sharif.

Moreover, the holding of Senate elections on March 3 also hangs in balance following the court’s ruling.

According to legal experts, the Senate’s elections may be delayed due to awarding of tickets to Senate’s aspirants by Mr. Sharif.

Therefore, if Sharif’s decisions were invalid in the eyes of law, there are legitimate concerns that this could lead to a constitutional crisis, surrounding the upcoming Senate’s elections and recently-held by-elections.

Questions are also being asked about the legitimacy of Lodhran by-election, where underdog Pir Iqbal Shah registered a stunning victory.

Knawar Dilshad, former ECP Secretary, told SAMAA that Lodhran by-election and awarding of tickets to Senate’s aspirants can be challenged on the basis of the Supreme Court’s verdict.

He said ECP had mandate to reschedule the Senate’s elections and PML-N will have to distribute fresh tickets.

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Story first published: 21st February 2018

Originally Posted on SamaaNews

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