Pakistan's Supreme Court has lifted a ban on opposition leader Nawaz Sharif and his brother that prevented them from running for elected office.

Mr. Sharif told reporters in Lahore that the people of Pakistan have set the judiciary free after it was practically taken hostage by former President Pervez Musharraf.

Polls in Pakistan show Mr. Sharif, a former prime minister, is the country's most popular politician.

In February, the high court had ruled that Mr. Sharif and his brother Shahbaz were not eligible for office because of old convictions the two men say were politically motivated.  This prompted them to lead nationwide protests against President Asif Ali Zardari's government.

In response, Mr. Zardari imposed federal rule on the Sharif brothers' political stronghold, Punjab province.

In March, the high court suspended the order barring the brothers from office.  It also lifted federal rule in Punjab, paving the way for Mr. Sharif's Pakistan Muslim League-N party to reinstall its government.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.