ISLAMABAD: Hundreds of people chanting slogans against the government protested across Pakistan on Wednesday after the Supreme Court verdict about disqualification of Sharif brothers. Several political leaders expressed fears the verdict could destabilize the central government and have a negative impact on the troubled region.
The Supreme Court dismissed appeals against a lower court ruling that Sharif and his brother were ineligible for election, senior lawyer Akram Sheikh told reporters outside the court. The Lahore High Court (LHC) ruled last June that Nawaz Sharif, ousted by former president Pervez Musharraf in a 1999 coup, was disqualified from standing in a by-election because of previous criminal convictions.
An angry mob of PML (N) workers gathered on the main Mall Road in Lahore, blocking traffic by burning tyres and chanting slogans against President Asif Ali Zardari. Witnesses said the crowd, including women supporters, attacked banners of the main ruling Pakistan People’s Party and tore down hoardings carrying pictures of the president, prime minister and the provincial governor.
Similar protests were held in the central town of Multan and more than a dozen other cities and towns in Punjab, nation’s political heartland. Party workers in Quetta staged a rally where the local leader of Sharif’s Pakistan Muslim League-N Ayaz Swati said the “government will now face a very strong public reaction.”
Amanullah Baloch, president of the lawyers association in Quetta said Sharif was “being punished for demanding independent judiciary.” Lawyers express “complete solidarity” and “fully back his struggle,” he told a news conference. “What has happened should not have happened,” veteran politician and leader of Awami National Party, Asfandyar Wali, said.
“We badly need national reconciliation today. This (judgment) is not good for the country and not good for this region,” he said. “The decision was according to our expectation,” Javed Hashmi, the vice-president of PML-N told reporters in Multan. “His disqualification will end politics of sobriety,” he said, warning that the government was courting downfall. Punjab PPP president Qasim Zia however refused to comment. “This is a court verdict and we cannot say anything,” he said.
While A PML (N) activist was killed amid protest sparked by the Supreme Court judgment declaring Sharif brothers ineligible for contesting polls here in Pirvidhai area in Rawalpindi on Wednesday. According to sources, he was killed by gunfire.-SANA