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The BBC's Zaffar Abbas in Islamabad
"Political parties are expected to react sharply"
 real 28k

Wednesday, 9 August, 2000, 17:37 GMT 18:37 UK
Politics ban for Sharif and Bhutto
President Rafiq Tarar with General Pervez Musharraf
A significant move by Pakistan's rulers
Two former prime ministers of Pakistan, Benazir Bhutto and Nawaz Sharif, have been barred from active politics under a new law.

In a significant change by Pakistan's military rulers to the rules governing political parties, no person with a court conviction can hold party office.

New law
Ban for those who:
are convicted in court
disqualified from politics

Violators face:
Fines
3 year jail sentence
The ousted Prime Minister, Nawaz Sharif, has been convicted of corruption and is also serving a life sentence for hijacking and terrorism.

Benazir Bhutto is living in exile and faces a five-year prison sentence after being found guilty of corruption last year.

The new law amends an older act set up in 1962 and was signed by President Rafiq Tarar.

It also bars from party posts anyone who is disqualified from holding public office.

Those found in breach of the new law face three years in prison term and a fine.

'Anti-criminalisation' measure

The BBC's Zaffar Abbas in Islamabad says the move confirms the widely-held view that Pakistan's military ruler, General Pervez Musharraf, is seeking to debar leading politicians from taking an active part in politics.

Benazir Bhutto
The exiled Bhutto faces five years in jail if she returns
Under the new law, Mr Sharif, ousted in a coup last October, is automatically disqualified from heading his Pakistan Muslim League (PML) party.

He had already been barred from political office for 21 years.

Political parties are expected to strongly condemn the new law.

Law Minister Aziz A Munshi denied, however, that it was directed against any particular party or politician.

"It is a measure to prevent criminalisation of politics," he told state TV.

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See also:

22 Jul 00 | South Asia
Sharif convicted of corruption
13 May 99 | South Asia
Bhutto appeal rejected
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