SC acquits Sharif in hijacking case

ISLAMABAD:Pakistan’s Supreme Court today overturned opposition leader Nawaz Sharif’s conviction on hijacking charges stemming from

the 1999 coup against his government, clearing

the last obstacle to his running for office.

Sharif was banned from office after being found guilty of hijacking General Pervez Musharraf’s plane in 1999. Sharif was prime minister at the time, while Musharraf was the head of Pakistan’s army. Sharif has insisted the ban was politically motivated.

In its ruling today, the apex court said there was no evidence to support the conviction. Prosecutor Shahadat Awan said the court’s decision was unanimous.

Sharif’s spokesman Sadiqul Farooq hailed the ruling, and said it brought a close to the final criminal case against the two-time PM, paving the way for his return to public office.

According to recent polls, Sharif is the country’s most popular politician.

“We knew that Sharif is innocent, but today’s court order also proved that he had been wrongly convicted,” Farooq said.

Today’s ruling was the third in the past two months to lift a ban

on Sharif’s participating

in elections.

The army ousted

Sharif’s government in a bloodless coup on October 12, 1999, the day Sharif removed Musharraf from his post as army chief and refused to allow the general’s plane to land at a Karachi airport while returning from a foreign trip.

After assuming power, the military government charged Sharif with ordering the hijacking of Musharraf’s plane. Sharif argued his actions only aimed to avert a coup that was already under way.