THE Supreme Court verdict declaring the Sharif brothers eligible for contesting elections is welcome. The larger Bench, headed by Justice Tassadaq Hussain Jilani and comprising Justice Nasirul Mulk, Justice Muhammad Musa K Leghari, Justice Sh Hakim Ali and Justice Ghulam Rabbani, gave a short judgement on Tuesday on a review petition filed by Mian Nawaz Sharif and Punjab Chief Minister Mian Shahbaz Sharif against their disqualification on conviction in the plane hijacking case and loan default case respectively. The court, in its initial hearing on March 31, had issued stay orders against the February 25 decision of the three-member Supreme Court Bench, allowing Mian Shahbaz to continue working as Punjab Chief Minister. The Sharif brothers won the long drawn-out judicial battle after two adverse verdicts handed down by the Lahore High Court and the Supreme Court, primarily for their refusal to appear before the PCO judges. The February 25 decision that had sparked mass protests eventually resulted not only in the restoration of the Shahbaz government but also the reinstatement of the deposed judges after a prolonged struggle by lawyers who were backed by the civil society and people from all walks of life. Mian Nawaz's observation that the public response to the court judgement is a manifestation of the respect for an independent judiciary is not misplaced. The countrywide protests over the past two years pointed to the widespread resentment against the dismissal of Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry and other superior court judges after the imposition of Emergency on 3 November 2007. That this extra-Constitutional act eventually led to General Musharraf's ouster less than a year after his re-election as President is beside the point. Mian Nawaz, whose victory in a by-election is almost certain, will be able to contribute more to the nation-building process by becoming a member of the National Assembly. Both mainstream parties now need to focus on doing away with the draconian amendments made to the Constitution by General Musharraf's handpicked Parliament that include the third-term ban on becoming prime minister. The PPP also stands to benefit from this in future. There is also a need to repeal the much-maligned 17th Amendment to restore the federal parliamentary character of the Constitution. Sincere efforts must also be made to implement the CoD that will strengthen the democratic process and also enable the current dispensation to effectively tackle the crises facing the country. It bears repeating that coalition partners should rise above political differences to serve the masses, who had brought them back into power after enduring a most repressive dictatorship. It must be kept in mind that there is still a long way to go to restore public confidence in democracy.