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Former Pakistani PM Sharif Reelected Head Of Ruling Party

FILE: Former Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif (C) waves to supporters during a rally in the eastern city of Gujrat in Punjab in August.
FILE: Former Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif (C) waves to supporters during a rally in the eastern city of Gujrat in Punjab in August.

Former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has been reelected as president of Pakistan's ruling party despite his dismissal from office by the Supreme Court.

His reelection at the helm of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) on October 3 came after parliament the previous day passed a measure allowing officials disqualified by courts to hold party offices.

The Supreme Court disqualified Sharif from office in July over the concealment of financial assets, forcing him to step down. He has denied any wrongdoing.

Sharif is now facing trial before an anticorruption court.

Opposition parties have warned that they will challenge the new bill in court, saying it was a vehicle for allowing Sharif to stay on as PML-N party president.

On October 2, the anticorruption tribunal postponed Sharif's indictment for a week after his children, who are co-defendants in the case, failed to appear in court.

The allegations against Sharif, a former three-time prime minister, and three of his children date back to one of his previous stints in power, in the 1990s.

His political adversaries accused Sharif and his family of laundering money from Pakistan and using the sums to buy real estate in London.

Known as a strong supporter of civilian rule, Sharif has a rough relationship with Pakistan's powerful military, and his supporters and some political commentators suggest the military was behind his ouster.

His family says the London properties were acquired as a settlement for investments they made with Qatar’s royal family in the 1980s.

Meanwhile, Pakistani Foreign Minister Khawaja Muhammad Asif is due to meet with U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson in Washington on October 4.

Relations between Islamabad and Washington have been tense since President Donald Trump singled out Pakistan when he announced a new Afghanistan strategy on August 21, accusing it of tolerating "safe havens" for Afghan militant groups on its territory.

In announcing the new strategy, Trump said, "We have been paying Pakistan billions and billions of dollars at the same time they are housing the very terrorists that we are fighting.... That will have to change."

In a first step, the United States withheld a $255 million military aid payment from Pakistan in September, officials said.

With reporting by Reuters, AP, AFP, and dpa

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