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Pakistan high court suspends decision barring ex-PM Sharif from elected office

[JURIST] The Supreme Court of Pakistan [official website] suspended its February decision [text, PDF; JURIST report] Tuesday barring former prime minister Nawaz Sharif [BBC profile; JURIST news archive] and his brother from holding elected office, pending the high court's final review of the decision. Last week, the government of President Asif Ali Zardari [BBC profile; JURIST news archive] petitioned the court to review the decision after Sharif's Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) [party website] and the Pakistan lawyers' movement [JURIST news archive] ended a long march and widespread anti-government protests earlier this month. The court's decision returns Shabaz Sharif [Daily Times report] to his post as chief minister of Punjab state, but Nawaz must wait until the court's final decision [Reuters report] to determine whether he can obtain a seat in the Pakistani parliament.

Last week, Zardari announced the formation of a parliamentary panel [JURIST report] to review key constitutional provisions, coming towards the end of a month of political turmoil in Pakistan which culminated in the reinstatement [JURIST report] of Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry Mohammed [JURIST news archive] of the Supreme Court of Pakistan. Prime Minister Syed Yousuf Raza Gilani [BBC profile] announced early last week that the government would reinstate Chaudhry in response to recent protests by members of the lawyers' movement and opposition politicians and supporters. Reports first surfaced in mid-March that President Zardari had agreed to reinstate Chaudhry and other judges ousted by Zardari's predecessor Pervez Musharraf in November 2007 after his declaration of emergency rule. Sharif and the PML-N have actively campaigned [JURIST report] for Chaudhry's reinstatement. Throughout the period of his removal Chaudhry insisted that he was still chief justice [JURIST report] under the Pakistani constitution.

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