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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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