Pakistan’s most popular politician, former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, suffered a major setback Monday when a court ruled him ineligible to run in upcoming parliamentary by-elections.
The decision was expected to deepen a rift between Sharif and his partner in the governing coalition over reinstating fired judges and could further destabilize the government in a nation seen as an important ally in the U.S.-led war on terror.
Sharif had been barred from running in February elections because of convictions related to his ouster in a 1999 coup, which was led by the current president, Pervez Musharraf. Earlier this month, the election commission effectively cleared him to run in Thursday’s by-elections after a tribunal set up to decide the matter failed to reach consensus.
However, the Lahore High Court, acting on a petition from a candidate and a voter, ruled Monday that Sharif, a bitter Musharraf opponent, was ineligible to run for parliament. The move effectively barred him from becoming prime minister.
U.S.-led attack kills 55 insurgents
U.S.-led forces rained fire for two days on militants near Afghanistan’s border with Pakistan, officials said Monday, killing about 55 insurgents and underscoring that fighting with Taliban insurgents is escalating.
The battle in eastern Paktika province was the second in the past week to reportedly inflict major casualties on militants, whom Afghan officials insist are swarming in from strongholds in Pakistan.
Pakistan’s government on Monday reiterated an offer to fence the craggy, 1,500-mile frontier – a project begun but abandoned last year amid criticism that it would only enrage the tribes who straddle the frontier and among whom the Taliban find many recruits.
Sports bra leads rescuers to hiker
An American hiker stranded in the Bavarian Alps for nearly three days was rescued after using her sports bra as a signal, police in southern Germany said Monday.
Berchtesgaden police officer Lorenz Rasp said he helped lift 24-year-old Jessica Bruinsma, of Colorado, to safety by helicopter on Thursday after she attracted the attention of lumberjacks by attaching her sports bra to a cable used to move timber down the mountain.
“She’s a very smart girl, and she acted very resourcefully,” said Rasp. “She kept her shirt and jacket for warmth, but thought the sports bra could work as a signal.”
An Alpine rescue team had been searching for Bruinsma since she went missing June 16 after losing her way in bad weather while hiking with a friend near the Austrian border.
She fell 16 feet to a rocky overhang, where she spent the next 70 hours on the narrow ledge, sustained by water that she found by breaking into a supply box on the ledge.
She badly bruised a leg and dislocated a shoulder in the fall, and the cliff was too isolated for her to climb free, Rasp said.
Rasp said the cable was only within reach because the timber transport system was out of service. When a repairman restored the line on Thursday, the cable car started moving up the mountain and Bruinsma’s bra reached the worker at the base. He knew of the missing hiker and immediately called police.