[JURIST] The government of Pakistan President Ali Asif Zardari [BBC profile; JURIST news archive] and his Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) [party website] filed an appeal with the Supreme Court of Pakistan [official website] Thursday, asking the court to review its February decision [JURIST report] banning former prime minister Nawaz Sharif [BBC profile; JURIST news archive] and his brother from holding elected office. The Supreme Court based its decision on a criminal conviction against Sharif, the leader of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) [party website], for attempting to divert a plane carrying army commander and later president Pervez Musharraf [JURIST news archive] in 1999 during a coup attempt. A government spokesperson said that the appeal [Dawn report] was made in the interest of constitutionalism and the rule of law [BBC report]. The filing of the report was seen by many, including the PML-N, as a condition for ending the recent protests and "long march" [JURIST news archive] against the Zardari government, which culminated in Monday's reinstatement [JURIST report] of Supreme Court Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammed Chaudhry [JURIST news archive].
Chaudhry's reinstatement was seen as a positive step for democratic rule in Pakistan. Prime Minister Syed Yousuf Raza Gilani [BBC profile] announced early Monday that the government would reinstate Chaudhry in response to recent protests by members of the lawyers' movement and opposition politicians and supporters. Gilani also ordered government officials to release [Dawn report] anyone arrested during the past week's so-called "long march" [JURIST reports]. Reports first surfaced late Sunday that President Zardari had agreed to reinstate Chaudhry and other judges ousted by Zardari's predecessor Musharraf in November 2007 after his declaration of emergency rule. Sharif and the PML-N have actively campaigned [JURIST report] for Chaudhry's reinstatement, leading a similar "long march" last summer. Chaudhry has always maintained that he is still chief justice [JURIST report] under the Pakistani constitution [text].