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Pakistan court rejects ex-PM's petition against removal

Sheikh Yaqub, center, candidate of the newly-formed Milli Muslim League party, waves to his supporters at an election rally, Thursday, Sept. 14, 2017. A candidate with links to a U.S.-designated terrorist group is among four politicians running for a parliamentary seat vacated by former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. (AP Photo/K.M. Chaudary)
September 15, 2017 - 12:00 PM

ISLAMABAD - Pakistan's Supreme Court on Friday rejected former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif's request for a review of a ruling disqualifying him from holding office for concealing his assets, a defence lawyer and the ruling party said.

The latest court order upheld the controversial July 28 verdict by a similar five-judge panel, diminishing Sharif's future prospects in politics. Analysts say the latest court ruling may influence the next elections, which are expected to be held in 2018.

The court on Friday also rejected review petitions from Sharif's two sons, his daughter Maryam Nawaz and Finance Minister Ishaq Dar, according to Salman Akram Raja, a senior leader of the ruling Pakistan Muslim League party.

"We accept this court order against Nawaz Sharif because we don't want political chaos," said Zafar Ullah, a leader member of the ruling party.

Earlier, Raja said the court would release a detailed statement to explain its reasons for upholding the July 28 ruling, under which the country's three-time premier was removed from office following a probe that determined he concealed financial assets.

Sharif resigned but insists he was disqualified over a trivial charge.

Sharif and some of his family members now face criminal charges brought forward by Pakistan's anti-corruption body.

Pakistan's election commission on Thursday also issued a warrant for the arrest of Imran Khan, a leading opposition figure, for making negative remarks about the organization.

On Friday, Khan's lawyer, Babar Awan, told The Associated Press that the election commission had asked Khan to post bail and appear before a panel on Sept. 25 to answer charges he made indecent remarks earlier this year, charges he called "biased."

Awan said the commission lacked the authority to act like a court.

Khan, a cricket legend-turned-politician, will likely be a potential contender for prime minister when the next elections are held. He has been a critic of U.S. involvement in Afghanistan as well as drone strikes in Pakistan.

Khan's party in the coming days will test its popularity by contesting election for a parliamentary seat vacated by Sharif following his disqualification. Sharif's ruling PML party has nominated Kulsoom Nawaz, his ailing wife, as its candidate and she may easily win Sunday's vote.

Kulsoom is being treated in London for cancer and her daughter Maryam is running her election campaign amid tight security in Lahore, which is a political base for the ruling party.

Sharif has been replaced by Shahid Khaqan Abbasi as prime minister.

News from © The Associated Press, 2017
The Associated Press

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