Pakistan in turmoil after Sharif brother is kicked out

Protesters take to streets as government of country's largest province disqualified

Pakistan has again been plunged into political turmoil after the Supreme Court brought down the government of the country's largest province, headed by the brother of President Asif Ali Zardari's main rival. The court ruled the election last year of Nawaz Sharif's younger brother, Shahbaz, as chief minister of Punjab, was invalid. It also kept in place a ban that prevents twice-former prime minister Mr Sharif standing for office.

As two months of central government rule was imposed on Punjab, supporters of the Sharif brothers took to the streets of Lahore and other Punjab towns, burning tyres and chanting, and 5 per cent was wiped from the country's stock exchange. In Islamabad, young men fanned out on to one of the capital's main thoroughfares, blocking traffic for hours. Waving flags, they chanted anti-Zardari slogans, and panicked shopkeepers closed their businesses. More demonstrations are planned today.

The showdown between Mr Zardari and Mr Sharif had been brewing since last summer when the Pakistan Muslim League-N leader broke from the government after a dispute over the restoration of ousted judges. Increasingly critical of Mr Zardari and his Pakistan People's Party (PPP), Mr Sharif had been positioning himself as an alternative should the PPP government fall and had added his support to a forthcoming march of lawyers in protest at the failure to reinstate a sacked chief justice. The Sharifs' supporters said yesterday's decision, just a week before elections for the upper chamber of parliament and the Senate, was purely political and bore the hallmark of Mr Zardari's interference. "Asif Ali Zardari had a hand in the disqualification of Nawaz Sharif, and today's decision is also according to his wishes," said Akram Sheikh, a lawyer for Mr Sharif, after the verdict.

Later, at a press conference at his home on the outskirts of Lahore, Mr Sharif launched a full-frontal attack on Mr Zardari, saying: "I want to tell the nation that it should stand up to this lawlessness, to this judgment, to this unconstitutional judgment, to this villainous act by the President of this country, Zardari."

Reviving the poisonous rivalry between the two parties that dogged Pakistan during the 1990s, he referred to allegations of the President's corruption while his wife, the late Benazir Bhutto, was prime minister. "Where are those millions of dollars?" he asked angrily. "The Pakistani people's money has not been returned."

With Pakistan confronted by a slew of pressing problems including the threat from Islamic militants, its diplomatic standoff with India in the aftermath of the Mumbai attacks and an economy held afloat only by the intervention of the International Monetary Fund, many have wondered why Mr Zardari might have decided to confront the Sharifs.

The Sharifs will now throw their support behind the so-called Long March on 12 March, when thousands of lawyers are to demonstrate for the restoration of the ousted former chief justice Iftikhar Chaudhry.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Arts and Entertainment
musicBand's first new record for 20 years has some tough acts to follow
News
peopleAt least it's for a worthwhile cause
Voices
A new app has been launched that enables people to have a cuddle from a stranger
voicesMaybe the new app will make it more normal to reach out to strangers
News
Liam Payne has attacked the media for reporting his tweet of support to Willie Robertson and the subsequent backlash from fans
peopleBut One Direction star insists he is not homophobic
Life and Style
healthFor Pure-O OCD sufferers this is a reality they live in
Life and Style
Sexual health charities have campaigned for the kits to be regulated
healthAmerican woman who did tells parents there is 'nothing to be afraid of'
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Senior Java Developer - API's / Webservices - XML, XSLT

£400 - £450 Per Day: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client is currently ...

Chemistry Teacher

£85 - £125 per day: Randstad Education Chester: Job Opportunity for Secondary ...

English Teacher

£85 - £125 per day: Randstad Education Chester: Job Opportunity for Secondary ...

English Teacher

£100 - £110 per day: Randstad Education Group: [ Megan Smith 22/09/2014 17:00:...

Day In a Page

A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

Not That Kind of Girl:

A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

Model mother

Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world
Apple still coolest brand – despite U2 PR disaster

Apple still the coolest brand

Despite PR disaster of free U2 album
Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments