June 29, 2018 / 12:43 PM / in 2 months

Pakistan court lifts ex-PM's disqualification in latest election twist

LAHORE, Pakistan (Reuters) - A Pakistani high court on Friday overturned a tribunal decision disqualifying outgoing Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi from running in his home constituency, yet another dramatic twist ahead of general elections due to be held next month.

FILE PHOTO: Pakistan's Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi speaks with a Reuters correspondent during an interview at his office in Islamabad, Pakistan September 11, 2017. REUTERS/Faisal Mahmood

Abbasi is running for election in two constituencies, and the ban had applied to his home constituency in the Murree hill district close to the capital, Islamabad, where he will contest cricketer turned politician Imran Khan.

“We have got the ban suspended from the high court,” Abbasi’s lawyer, Khawaja Tariq Raheem, told Reuters.

Disqualification of candidates is one of the challenges his former ruling party, the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), has faced ahead of the July 25 elections, which party founder Nawaz Sharif - who was ousted by the Supreme Court last year - has termed a “pre-poll rigging”.

The Supreme Court on Thursday disqualified a former privatisation minister for the PML-N, Daniyal Aziz, from running for election for contempt of court over his criticism of Sharif’s removal as political.

Sharif has argued that the Pakistani military, aided by top members of the judiciary, backed a series of decisions which banned him from politics for life.

An election commission tribunal had ruled that Abbasi did not declare an accurate value of his assets in his nomination papers.

Abbasi denies the charge. “I declared an actual value of my property at the rate which my father bought it in 1974,” he has said. “It is an election for the parliament. They have made it a joke.”

He said the nomination papers required a candidate to disclose an actual value of a property instead its present market price.

Abbasi was named prime minister last year after the Supreme Court disqualified then-premier Sharif, who had served twice as prime minister before and was ousted both times.

Sharif has a history of differences with the military, which has ruled the nuclear-armed country for almost half of its history.

Sharif’s younger brother, Shehbaz Sharif, who took over the party leadership, said on Thursday the recent actions by the anti-graft body put the election process in doubt.

“All political parties must be given a level playing field,” he tweeted.

Writing by Asif Shahzad; Editing by Nick Macfie

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