Pakistan’s former prime minister and a member of his cabinet have been controversially barred from contesting next month’s general election. It is the latest in a series of blows to the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) party that have fuelled accusations the country’s military is trying to deny the party a second term. On Thursday, the supreme court found the former privatisation minister Daniyal Aziz guilty of contempt, disqualifying him from parliament for five years.
The verdict came one day after an election tribunal barred ex-prime minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi from contesting his home-constituency of Murree. A single-judge bench ruled that Abbasi was “guilty of concealment of facts” on election papers and therefore disqualified from politics for life under article 62 of Pakistan’s constitution.
That clause, which requires politicians to be “honest and righteous”, was also used in 2017 by the supreme court to justify the ousting of prime minister Nawaz Sharif.
Sharif, who has opposed the military establishment since he was removed from office in a 1999 coup, is calling on voters to back the PML-N on 25 July in the face of what leaders describe as a familiar conspiracy between the army and the judiciary.