Pakistan Supreme Court lifts lifetime election bans on convicts

With profound ramifications for Pakistan's political landscape, the Supreme Court of Pakistan reversed the lifetime bans on those with prior convictions from running for office in a historic ruling on Monday. Nawaz Sharif, the former prime minister, can now run for the job a fourth time after Chief Justice Qazi Faez Isa made the announcement.

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The ruling directly impacts Sharif's political journey, as his party, the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), emerges as a strong contender in the upcoming February 8 elections. Notably, Sharif's main rival, former Prime Minister Imran Khan, finds himself in jail and barred from participating in the polls for the next five years.

Sharif's Conviction and Previous Ban:

Following a conviction for dishonest acts in 2017, the 74-year-old Sharif was banned for life under certain constitutional provisions, according to a Supreme Court verdict. Even though Sharif wasn't a petitioner in the most recent case, the decision makes him qualified to run in the next elections because it has been more than five years since his conviction in 2017.

Chief Justice's Statement:

Chief Justice Isa, delivering the ruling, stated, "It is beyond its scope," emphasizing the court's view that lifetime bans were not within its purview. This decision marks a departure from the previous stance that led to the imposition of such bans, providing a legal pathway for individuals like Sharif to re-enter the political arena.

Impact on Imran Khan:

However, the lifting of lifetime bans does not benefit Imran Khan, 71, whose party secured victory in the 2018 elections. The ruling specifically addresses lifetime bans, leaving Khan disqualified until 2028, despite the political dynamics that have unfolded since the last election.

The Supreme Court's decision to abolish lifetime bans on contesting elections has reshaped the political landscape in Pakistan. With Nawaz Sharif now eligible to participate in the upcoming polls, the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) gains momentum, setting the stage for a highly anticipated electoral battle on February 8.

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