Pakistan's Supreme Court has restored a powerful politician, Shahbaz Sharif, to his post as chief minister of Punjab province.

The five-member bench, appointed by the newly reinstated Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammed Chaudhry, suspended last month's ruling against Sharif and his brother, opposition leader Nawaz Sharif. 

But the bench did not decide on their eligibility to run for office in Tuesday's ruling. Earlier court rulings banning them from elected office because of prior convictions are expected to be considered in future court reviews.

Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari imposed federal rule on Punjab province last month after the Supreme Court upheld the electoral ban against the Sharif brothers.

The developments sparked opposition anger and anti-government protests that led to the reinstatement of chief justice Chaudhry.  

President Zardari had promised to restore the independent-minded chief justice to the bench after taking office last year.  But he repeatedly delayed, causing Nawaz Sharif to quit the coalition government.

The political turmoil hurt President Zardari's reputation and has since vowed to take steps to reconcile with the opposition.