Nawaz Sharif not to contest by-elections to Pak`s parliament
Last Updated: Saturday, January 23, 2010, 18:51
Lahore: Opposition PML-N chief and former premier Nawaz Sharif will not contest upcoming by-elections to Pakistan's parliament, sources in the party said on Saturday.

"After long consultations within the party, Nawaz Sharif has finally decided not to take part in forthcoming by-polls to a parliamentary seat in Lahore," a close aide of the PML-N chief said to a news agency.

"Senior party leaders are of the view that Mr Sharif will not be in a better position to play his cards once he becomes a member of the National Assembly. He should not simply be the Leader of Opposition or a mere parliamentarian.

It is better for his political career and the party that he remains behind the scenes at the moment," said the aide, who did not want to be named.

PML-N spokesman Pervez Rashid was more circumspect, saying the party is yet to make a "final decision" on whether Sharif would contest the by-polls.

However, Sharif's aide said there were several reasons which had influenced the decision not to field the PML-N chief as a candidate in the by-polls though he could easily win.

"Since the PML-N's outspoken leaders like Chaudhry NisarAli Khan, Ahsan Iqbal and Khwaja Asif leave no opportunity to embarrass the Pakistan People's Party-led government, the PML-N sees no reason to send Mr Sharif to the National Assembly," the aide said.

Following a recent order from the Supreme Court, the Election Commission is expected to soon announce the schedule for the by-elections to the parliamentary seat in Lahore.

Earlier, the Punjab government had cited the adverse law and order situation in the province as the reason for not holding the polls in November last year.

Sources said PML-N is considering a move to field Pervez Malik, the brother of former Attorney General Malik Qayyum, for the upcoming by-polls.

Several recent opinion polls have established that Sharif is Pakistan's most popular leader and observers believe the PML-N will perform better than the ruling PPP in the next general election. PPP circles perceived the PML-N's move in this perspective.

"I think the PML-N is expecting mid-term polls and Nawaz Sharif is only interested in going to Islamabad as the premier of the country," said Samiullah Khan, a senior leader of PPP's Punjab chapter.

"Sharif and his brother, Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif, with the help of their friends in the judiciary want to create a situation whereby mid-term polls become inevitable but the PPP will foil all such designs," Khan said.

Top Pakistani judges, including Supreme Court Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry, deposed during the 2007 emergency were restored to their positions following country-wide protests organised by the PML-N in March last year.

Since then, the judiciary has been perceived as being closer to the PML-N leadership.

Relations between the PPP and PML-N too have been strained. The Sharif brothers stayed out of the country during PPP chief and President Asif Ali Zardari’s recent week-long tour of Punjab province.


First Published: Saturday, January 23, 2010, 18:51

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