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Thursday, June 26, 2008

Pakistani Deputy Attorney General Raja Abdur Rehman (C) addresses media representatives as he leaves the Supreme Court building in Islamabad yesterday after filing a petition challenging the Lahore High Court decision that barred former premier Nawaz Sharif from contesting a by-election. Photo: AFP
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Pakistan's Supreme Court yesterday ordered the postponement of a by-election while it decides on a government appeal against the disqualification of former premier Nawaz Sharif, lawyers said.

A panel of three judges said today's election for the parliamentary seat in the eastern city of Lahore must be delayed until the court rules on the issue, with the next hearing scheduled for June 30.

"The Supreme Court has stayed the election... and has fixed the main case for June 30," said Akram Sheikh, a leading lawyer for Sharif's Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz.

Lahore High Court ruled on Monday that Sharif, ousted by President Pervez Musharraf in a 1999 coup, was ineligible to stand because of previous criminal convictions.

The government filed an appeal earlier yesterday, a day after Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani said it was trying to help Sharif, a key partner in the ruling coalition that beat Musharraf's allies in elections in February.

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