LAHORE: Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz has agreed to accept the Supreme Court’s verdict to disqualify Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, even if they don’t necessarily agree with it.
Punjab Minister for Law Rana Sanaullah said the party has complete faith in its chief and Pakistan’s former prime minister.
He assured that Punjab would follow the party policy on the matter. Meanwhile, MPAs in Punjab, requesting anonymity, stated no party policy had been presented to them in the wake of the verdict. One of them said PML-N activists were forced to draw their own conclusions from the press conference in Islamabad.
“We were at the forefront of the Panama crisis that crashed down on PML-N because we were facing the people of our constituency.” He added there was still no official word from the party.
Narowal MPA Rana Abdul Manan said it was a wrong impression that people had accepted the Panama case verdict. He added scores of activists had vowed before him to support Nawaz Sharif. Manan said the former prime minister’s only crime was steering the country out of a crisis and he was being punished for it.
In contrast to PTI, PML-N workers distraught over decision. PHOTO: ABID NAWAZ/EXPRESS
He said load shedding had decreased, terrorism was all but wiped out and the economy was improving, but none of this was enough to convince people that Nawaz was a true patriot and a sincere leader.
Lahore Party President MPA Pervaiz Malik said the party policy would be clear on Saturday after a meeting. “As of now, it is business as usual.”
He said workers accepted this decision because it was party policy. When asked about a candidate for NA-120 after Nawaz’s disqualification, he stated matters would be more clear after the leaders have had a chance to talk.
Meanwhile, Chief Minister’s Special Assistant and MPA Zaeem Qadri said workers have been advised to stay calm and abstain from protesting. He said that was the main reason there weren’t any full-fledged demonstrations.
He said PML-N activists had been assured that the party would steer itself out of the Panama crisis and emerge victorious.
Chief Minister’s Advisor on Health Khawaja Salman Rafique and Punjab Primary and Secondary Healthcare Minister Khawaja Imran Nazir said that despite strong reservations, they were bound to accept the apex court’s decision. They added Nawaz would remain their leader and prime minister of their hearts.
Lahore Lord Mayor Colonel (Retd) Mubashir Javed said PML-N had accepted the apex court’s decision, but minority parties should keep in mind the N-League was still a majority party. “Senior party leaders will follow their agenda of development and nominate a new prime minister after a consultation process,” he added.
The mayor said though the apex court’s decision was not in PML-N’s favour, his party still maintained the right to prepare for the next general elections.
On the streets, protesting PML-N leaders and activists underlined that the apex court could send Nawaz packing, but nobody could remove him from the hearts of citizens. “It does not matter that he has been disqualified as he is still our prime minister,” they added.
Opposition and political leaders have expressed mixed reaction over the SC verdict. Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf (PTI) activists and supporters celebrated the apex court’s decision by distributing sweets and dancing to the beat of the drum.
Pakistan Muslim League-Q (PML-Q) President Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain had termed the apex court’s decision against Nawaz, his children and close aides as historical. He added the entire nation should be proud of the SC.
“It has now been proven that just five men can take the country in the right direction.”
Welcoming the verdict, Shujaat said the decision was very important for the future of Pakistan and it was the dawn of a corruption-free nation. He said the learned judges had heightened the prestige of judiciary and the political direction of Pakistan been determined. Praising the diligence and courage of the JIT members, Shujaat said the manner in which they withstood all sorts of criticism, allegations and pressure, was exemplary.
Pakistan Peoples’ Party (PPP) Lahore President Azizur Rehman Chan also distributed sweets among party leaders and activists. He held former PPP chairperson and prime minister Benazir Bhutto’s portrait in his hand and appreciated the SC’s decision to disqualify Nawaz.
However, PPP leader Chaudhry Manzoor said political parties that were celebrating the Panamagate decision should bear in mind they may face a similar difficult situation soon. He added PTI Chairman Imran Khan’s case was also being heard by the Election Commission of Pakistan.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 29th, 2017.