LAHORE/SIALKOT/ISLAMABAD: PML-N supremo Nawaz Sharif, responding to the Supreme Court judgment, termed it as expected and vengeful, saying all the verdicts are targeting him.
“It is apparent that the target of all these judgments is me,” he told the party workers at his residence at Jati Umra on Friday, adding no one could snatch people’s leadership from them. Nawaz directed the workers to show restraint and remain steadfast in the face of injustice, and said they should wait for his call.
On the other hand, Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif, who is also the PML-N president, in a series of tweets said Nawaz did not need any formal office to continue guiding his party and serving his people. In his reaction to the Supreme Court verdict, the chief minister said: “Nawaz Sharif is not the name of a person. Rather he represents a philosophy and an ideology of public service, supremacy of Constitution and respect of vote. A leader like him does not need any formal office to continue guiding his party [and] serving his people.” He said the people are facing testing times. “Today is a day of test for the nation when a judicial decision has barred a popular national leader from serving the country who made it a nuclear power and who has the distinct honour of being elected prime minister thrice.” Shahbaz said despite the odds, the PML-N would remain the largest party of the country under Nawaz’s leadership. “We have always believed in the supremacy of law and the neutrality of its arbiters. Despite the judicial verdict, the PML-N will continue to be the largest political party of the country under the guidance of Nawaz Sharif.”
Meanwhile, PML-N central leader Maryam Nawaz said the PML-N leadership is not afraid of any handcuffs or jail. “It makes no difference even if the party leaders and workers are handcuffed or sent to jail,” she said in her address to the charged PML-N workers and activists at a social media convention in Sialkot. She said whenever any attempt has been made to remove Nawaz from politics in the past, he has emerged as a stronger and a more popular leader. She said the lifetime disqualification of Nawaz had proved his invincibility. Those busy in hatching conspiracies against him (Nawaz) wanted him disqualified because they were fully convinced that it would be impossible to defeat him in the 2018 elections, Maryam said.
She said the latest Supreme Court verdict is actually a moral victory of Nawaz who is living in the hearts of masses. She added that the ousted prime minister was disqualified in the same case but he could never be removed from the hearts and minds of the people, as he was the most beloved and popular political leader of the country. Maryam said disqualifications and imprisonments are not new for Nawaz, as he has already faced verdicts of disqualification, death sentence, life imprisonment, exile and many other atrocities during the Musharraf regime. She said all those decisions and verdicts of Musharraf era are lying in the dustbin of history, and the so-called brave dictator (Musharraf) is avoiding the courts by staying abroad.
Maryam said the popular vote has been disrespected in the country for decades through illegal ousting of the elected prime ministers. “But it is different in 2018, as a vast majority of masses, who are awake, have rejected the insulting treatment of an elected premier,” she said. She criticised the PTI chief Imran Khan as a “master of U-turns” and added he has joined hands with the PPP Co-chairman Asif Ali Zardari to get benefit in the recent Senate elections, quite contrary to his previous tall claims. She termed it quite ironic and against the law that first Nawaz was punished by disqualification and then proof and witnesses were gathered against him. She predicted that the JIT chief Wajid Zia would become a major witness in order to prove innocence of Nawaz in near future. She claimed that all the negative tactics to stop Nawaz and the PML-N would meet failure, as it would emerge as the strongest political party of the country after a historical triumph in the elections.
And in Islamabad, State Minister for Information Maryam Aurangzeb said the latest Supreme Court verdict is similar to that which sent PPP founder Zulfikar Ali Bhutto to the gallows. “Today, a three-time elected prime minister has been declared disqualified for lifetime. This is the same decision which hanged Zulfikar Ali Bhutto,” she told newsmen. “The decision will lead to the beginning of a new era of Nawaz Sharif’s politics and his opponents should beware of it,” she said, adding the same treatment had been meted out to 17 prime ministers of the country.
She also maintained that under the doctrine of necessity, the masses would make effective a new narrative ‘Give Respect to Vote’. The state minister pointed out that the decision has been given, prior to the verdict by the trial court where even one rupee corruption could not be proved against Nawaz. She said the PML-N and Nawaz Sharif always held the judiciary in high esteem and advocated the supremacy of the Constitution. However, she maintained, any reaction to the Supreme Court verdict was the constitutional right of Nawaz and the masses.