Pakistan Supreme Court stays Sharif's by-election

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Islamabad, Jun 25 (UNI) Pakistan's Supreme Court today stayed by-election in a constituency in the country's eastern city of Lahore till decision on an appeal of the government challenging Lahore High Court's judgement to bar former premier Nawaz Sharif to contest the polls.

''We are immediately staying election in National Assembly constituency NA-123,'' presiding judge of a three member apex court bench said after hearing representatives of the federation.

The government had filed the challenge in the court this morning a day after Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani said in the National Assembly that the federation would appeal against the lower court's order, barring Sharif to contest polls on previous criminal charges against him.

Sharif, who was ousted in a bloodless military coup by President Pervez Musharraf in October 1999, had returned home in November after living in exile in Saudi Arabia for eight years.

''The high court's decision is interference in election matters as only an election tribunal is empowered to look into electoral disputes under the constitution,'' Deputy Attorney General Raja Abdur Rehman told UNI.

Earlier, Rehman asked the Supreme Court to strike down order of its subordinate court and postpone the election till final disposal of the appeal.

Sharif has already announced that he would not file any appeal before judges, who took oath under provisional constitutional order (PCO) after imposition of emergency rule in November last year.

The court, which fixed June 30 as the next date of hearing, issued notices to federal government and to Nawaz Sharif to appeal before the court but one of his lawyers, Akram Sheikh said he would not in line with his policy, opposing PCO judges.

The two-time former industrialist Prime Minister, who formed coalition government with slain Benazir Bhutto's Pakistan Peoples Party, pulled his ministers of the federal cabinet after the PPP failed to implement an understanding reached between the two parties in March to restore deposed judges through a parliamentary resolution within one month of the formation of their governemnt.

UNI XC MP BST0056

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