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Wednesday, November 10, 1999 Published at 15:53 GMT

World: South Asia

Sharif's party goes to court

Pakistan Muslim League members have appealed to the courts

By Shahid Malik in Lahore

The party of deposed Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, is to challenge the suspension of the country's constitution in the Supreme Court.

A senior leader of Mr Sharif's Pakistan Muslim League (PML) party, Raja Zafar-ul-Haq, said the suspension of the constitution by the country's new ruler General Pervez Musharraf would now be challenged legally.

Pakistan in crisis
The decision comes after the party's Co-ordination Committee met in Lahore.

The PML's decision echoed an earlier statement, in which it said the party could not see any legal justification for the military coup led by General Musharraf, and the subsequent suspension of the constitution.

Speaking to journalists, Raja Zafar-ul-Haq, said that interpreting the constitution and giving a judgement on its existing status was the exclusive jurisdiction of the highest courts in the country.

That is why, he said, the PML had decided to now take the case to the Supreme Court.


[ image: Both Mr Sharif and his brother are in custody]
Both Mr Sharif and his brother are in custody
The announcement by the party comes at a time when newspapers in Pakistan have been publishing a letter addressed to the military authorities by Hamza Shahbaz Sharif, the nephew of the deposed Prime Minister, Nawaz Sharif.

In the letter, Mr Sharif's nephew has asked for permission to reopen the business offices of the Sharif family so that arrangements can be made to pay back their bank loans.

Without quoting any figures, the letter says that the family had already decided to return the money while Nawaz Sharif was still in power.

The military government in Pakistan has set 16 November as a deadline for the repayment of overdue bank loans.

Meanwhile, a petition challenging the dismissal of Mr Sharif, filed by a group of lawyers, is already pending before a five-member bench of the Lahore High Court.

The court has been seeking the advice of leading lawyers to assess the legal validity of the petition.

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