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Sharifs can't contest polls in 2002, says Qureshi
Bureau Report

ISLAMABAD, Dec 11: The Sharif family exiled to Saudi Arabia has been barred from taking part in political activities and it can not contest the election to be held in 2002, a government spokesman said.

Talking to Dawn, Maj-Gen Rashid Qureshi said that under the plea bargain between the government and the Sharif family, the latter was "bound to remain out of the political scene for an unlimited period".

In reply to a question, the spokesman said he was not aware of the time period for exile but confirmed that it's not for life.

When his attention was drawn to the fact that the pardon and exile should only apply to Nawaz Sharif, as he had been convicted by courts, while the rest of the family stood clean, he said the restrictions of exile and politics would apply to all members of the family.

But in the same breath, he explained that the exile restrictions would not apply to Mian Sharif and his wife.

The Sharifs, he claimed, had given the undertaking that they would neither issue political statements while living in exile nor would they participate in politics.

When asked under what conditions the government could bar the "clean" members of the Sharif family from either visiting Pakistan or participating in politics, he said: "This is what they had desired in their request on the basis of which the pardon was granted and they were exiled."

The spokesman stated that the Sharif family had requested for clemency and exile for all its members.

About the nature of reception accorded by the Saudi authorities to the former prime minister, Gen Qureshi said it did not bother the government because the Saudis had welcomed Idi Amin of Uganda in the similar fashion, who is still living there.

Political observers and legal experts, however, could not comprehend under what legal authority the government could prevent the members of the Sharif family from travelling to Pakistan and from participating in political activities. It is also not clear what the government can or will do if the Sharifs travelled to London and started issuing political statements as is being done by Benazir Bhutto and other leaders living there.
( Dawn, Dec. 12, 2000)

( Dawn, Dec. 12, 2000)