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‘Prior Convictions’ Bar Sharif From Elections

From an outraged New York Times:

Sharif Barred From Pakistan Election

Published: December 4, 2007

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan, Dec. 3 — Former Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has been barred from running in January’s parliamentary elections because of a prior conviction, Pakistan’s election commission announced today.

A spokesman for Mr. Sharif, Ahsan Iqbal, said the barring of Mr. Sharif was part of a plan by President Pervez Musharraf and his supporters to rig the elections, and that Mr. Sharif’s lawyers would contest the decision.

Mr. Sharif, a leading opposition figure who was overthrown in a military coup in 1999, was allowed to return from exile last week, and filed nomination papers to represent a district of his home city of Lahore in the parliamentary elections scheduled for Jan. 8. But other candidates in the district challenged his nomination on the grounds that he was convicted in 2000 of hijacking a plane carrying Mr. Musharraf, who was then head of the army, an act that precipitated the bloodless coup.

“His nomination papers are rejected because of his convictions,” said the presiding election official in Lahore, Raja Qamaruzaman, Reuters news agency reported.

Mr. Sharif arrived in Islamabad today to meet with another former prime minister and opposition leader, Benazir Bhutto, to discuss a joint stance on the elections.

Mr. Sharif had called for a boycott of the elections in protest at the state of emergency imposed by Mr. Musharraf on Nov. 3, when Mr. Musharraf suspended the Constitution and dismissed the Supreme Court.

Yet a boycott without Ms. Bhutto’s Pakistan Peoples Party would be largely ineffective. Ms. Bhutto has said that a boycott would just hand a victory to Mr. Musharraf and his supporters…

What a circus.

Notice that, according to our media ethicists at least, it’s okay to ban someone from office on a technicality — such as being in uniform during the election, even though you have pledged to leave the military.

But that it is morally wrong to ban someone from participating in elections if they merely have a few prior convictions.

By the way, does this rule cover convictions outside of Pakistan?  For Ms. Bhutto and her husband were convicted of money laundering in Switzerland in 2003.

Of course our media’s attitude towards her is “don’t ask, don’t tell.”

This article was posted by Steve on Monday, December 3rd, 2007. Comments are currently closed.

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