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Pakistan's ruling party rejects early election option

PAKISTANS RULING PARTY REJECTS EARLY ELECTION OPTION

The ruling Pakistan Muslim League (PML-N) on Friday rejected the possibility of early general election in Pakistan following the Supreme Court's decision to disqualify Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.

Sharif announced his resignation via his spokesman following the court's judgment against him over his involvement in the Panama Papers scandal.

He was convicted of financial irregularities, misuse of authority and concealment of assets relating to offshore companies and multi-million dollar properties tied to family members.

The judgment, which came after a 273-day hearing that gripped the nation, also bars Sharif from holding the leadership of the ruling Pakistan Muslim League.

Former Planning and Development Minister Ahsan Iqbal told a news conference in capital Islamabad that deliberations for the next prime minister were underway, and the party would come up with a decision as soon as the president summoned the parliament's session for election of Sharif's successor.

"There will be no early election. The PML [Nawaz group] will compete its tenure by June 2018," Iqbal said.

"Our leader is still Nawaz Sharif. We have accepted this decision with serious reservations as justice has not been dispensed to us," he said.

"There is no government in the country at the moment. Pakistan is currently being run without any government or Cabinet."

Former Railways Minister Khawaja Saad Rafique told the same news conference his party was considering filing a review petition in the Supreme Court but no definitive decision had been taken in this regard. "But it is likely," Rafique added.

Ruling party leaders also claimed Sharif had not been convicted of corruption or misuse of authority but "so-called concealment of assets".

In its order, the court also directed the country's anti-corruption authorities to file separate corruption cases against the former prime minister, the finance minister, his two sons, daughter, and son-in-law for their involvement in the Panama papers scandal.

The lower house of the parliament is likely to meet in the coming days to select a new premier.

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