Gilani "Saddened" by SC Order on Sharif

Rezaul H Laskar/Islamabad
Gilani "Saddened" by SC Order on Sharif

Pakistan Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani today said he was "saddened" by a Supreme Court order barring opposition Pakistan Mulim League (Nawaz) party leaders Nawaz and Shahbaz Sharif from contesting polls and holding public office as the ruling PPP wanted political reconciliation.

"We wanted reconciliation and we were moving toward that. We wanted the process of reconciliation to continue," Gilani told reporters a day after the apex court barred former premier Nawaz Sharif from contesting polls.

Gilani said he was "saddened by the court's decision" as "undemocratic forces can benefit when there is no national consensus".

The PML-N had reacted angrily to the order, with Nawaz Sharif saying the judgement was influenced by Zardari.

The SC also barred Sharif's brother, Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif, from holding public office. Following the order, President Asif Ali Zardari imposed Governor's Rule in the politically crucial Punjab province.

Gilani said he had spoken to Shahbaz immediately after the court's verdict and regretted the order had come just a day after the two of them had met to discuss ways to improve relations between the PPP and PML-N.

Asked about the order for imposing Governor's Rule being issued by Zardari on the Prime Minister's advice, Gilani said his advice is necessary according to the rules of business.

Following the verdict, former Premier Sharif accused Zardari of hatching a conspiracy with the Supreme Court judges to oust him from the electoral process and challenged him to hold a referendum on the apex court's judgement.

The party has called for nationwide protests against the judgement, sparking fears of political instability in the country and a return to bitter rivalry between the Pakistan People's Party (PPP) and PML-N in the 1980s.

Media reports have also suggested that a rift has emerged between Gilani and Zardari over the handling of the PPP's ties with the PML-N, with the Prime Minister reportedly favouring a more reconciliatory approach.

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