[JURIST] A Pakistani court ruled Friday that government prosecutors may reopen their investigation into alleged corruption committed by exiled former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif [BBC profile], dealing a blow to Sharif's bid to return to Pakistan. Sharif, exiled for 10 years to Saudi Arabia in exchange for the government dropping its investigation in 2000, petitioned the Supreme Court of Pakistan [official website] for the right to return earlier this year. Legal observers say the government's bid to reopen the case against Sharif, who was overthrown by Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf [BBC profile] in a 1999 military coup, is a preemptive measure in case the Supreme Court issues a ruling favorable to Sharif. If Sharif returns to Pakistan while the corruption case is pending, he could face detention.
Last Friday, the Supreme Court of Pakistan ordered the government to produce complete voter registration records [JURIST report], a move that may hinder Musharraf's bid to extend his eight-year rule by another five years. Government lawyers had sought 140 days to produce the records, which would have extended beyond the November elections, but the Court ordered them due within 30 days of the ruling. The high court has also ordered the release on bail [JURIST report] of opposition leader Javed Hashmi. The rulings were issued after the reinstatement [order] of suspended Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry [JURIST news archive]. Many lawyers and opposition leaders have alleged that Chaudhry's suspension [JURIST report] was an indirect bid to forestall any legal challenges ahead of Musharraf's bid for re-election. BBC News has more.