NEW YORK - Major U.S. newspapers on Wednesday carried dispatches about the Supreme Court decision to lift the electoral ban on PML-N Quaid Nawaz Sharif, and were unanimous in their assessment that he is the most popular leader in Pakistan. "The court decision will bolster the standing of Mr. Sharif, who in recent months has emerged as the most popular politician in the country," the prestigious New York Times said. "President Asif Ali Zardari has seen his popularity ratings plummet, largely because of concerns about Pakistans faltering economy and a general sense that the country is headed in the wrong direction," wrote the Times' correspondent, Salman Masood, in a dispatch from Islamabad. Correspondent Griff Witte of The Washington Post said, "The ruling is likely to ease political tensions in the short term but could ultimately pose a challenge for President Asif Ali Zardari, who is Sharif's main rival and whose popularity has plummeted. Although elections are not due until 2013, Sharif is now in position to reclaim the office he held twice in the 1990s" Correspondents Matthew Rosenberg and Zahid Hussain of The Wall Street Journal said in a joint dispatch from Islamabad that the court decision removed an immediate political flashpoint and potential source of instability. "But because Mr. Sharif is arguably Pakistan 's most popular politician, the decision raised the prospect of sweeping political change, at a time when the government is fighting Taliban militants and struggling to shore up a shaky economy. A recent poll put Mr. Sharif's approval rating at 75%, while President Asif Ali Zardari's rating stood at 19%," the WSJ dispatch said. All papers made it a point to mention the "bold" Long March led by Nawaz Sharif that led to restoration of Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry, who was ousted by former president Pervez Musharraf.