Pakistan court allows former PM Ashraf to contest polls

LAHORE (AFP) - A Pakistani court on Monday allowed former prime minister Raja Pervez Ashraf to contest May 11 polls, striking down a disqualification order by an election tribunal, his lawyer said.

Mr Ashraf, a candidate for the outgoing governing Pakistan People's Party, was earlier this month prevented from standing in his native Gojar Khan district in central Punjab province after his opponent accused him of corruption.

He filed an appeal but both high court judges on the election tribunal rejected it and disqualified him from standing.

"A full court bench of Lahore High Court today struck down the election tribunal's order on our appeal and allowed Ashraf to contest the election," his lawyer Sardar Latif Khosa told AFP.

Mr Ashraf was sworn in as prime minister last June after Pakistan's top court sacked his predecessor for contempt over his refusal to ask Switzerland to reopen corruption cases against President Asif Ali Zardari on the grounds that he has immunity as head of state.

Pakistanis go to the polls on May 11 in a general election that should see power pass from a civilian government that has served a full term to another through the ballot box for the first time in the nuclear-armed country's turbulent history.

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