Saturday September 25, 2021

All eyes on Panama case verdict today

Political leaders zero in on Islamabad; PPP to announce strategy after verdict; PTI planning public gathering

ISLAMABAD: Major opposition parties summoned their meetings on Wednesday to tone up their political strategies ahead of the Panama case verdict.

The Supreme Court (SC) will announce its verdict at 2:00pm on Thursday (today). Major political parties in opposition have summoned their top leaders to devise a strategy if the court decision backs the Sharif family or supports the contention of the petitioners. The Pakistan People's Party has decided to form a grand alliance after the judgment and contacts will be made within the next few days. The Central Executive Committee (CEC) of the PPP, which met Wednesday night here at the Zardari House, was chaired by former president Asif Ali Zardari and Chairman PPP Bilawal Bhutto Zardari and was attended by former prime ministers Syed Yusuf Raza Gilani and Raja Pervez Ashraf, PPP Secretary General Syed Nayyer Hussain Bokhari, opposition leaders in the Senate and National Assembly Aitzaz Ahsan and Syed Khursheed Shah, Senator Rehman Malik, Senator Farooq H Naek, PPP Punjab President Qamar Zaman Kaira, PPP South Punjab President Syed Mehmood Ahmed, Manzoor Wattoo, Senator Sherry Rehman, Senator Farhatullah Babar,

It will announce its future political strategy after the judgment today (Thursday). "We will announce our political strategy after the Supreme Court judgment on the Panama case as the meeting will continue on Thursday," said PPPP Spokesman Farhatullah Babar while talking at a news conference after the meeting.

He said all the leadership will hear the judgement at the Zardari House and will hold its meeting to finalise the political strategy. "The overall political situation of the country, ongoing loadshedding  and the implementation of the National Action Plan came under discussion," he added.

Addressing the meeting, Zardari said he did not have any expectation from the SC decision, sources said. Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) on Wednesday decided to hold a big public meeting here at the Parade Ground shortly after whatever judgement the SC would announce.

Immediately after the SC said on Tuesday that the much-awaited judgement in the case, involving the Sharif family, would be announced on Thursday, PTI Chairman Imran Khan summoned the meeting of his key leaders from the Centre as well as the provinces here in addition to legislators from parliament and provincial legislatures.

He chaired the meeting on Wednesday and expressed his resolve that the judgement would be landmark in Pakistan’s history with regard to corruption by the ruling elite. He expressed his satisfaction over the way the party kept the issue of the PanamaLeaks alive. 

The PTI chairman was happy that contrary to the rulers’ expectation, the issue echoed not only at national but also at international scene despite passage of so many months after the scandal unfolded early last year. It was learnt that most probably, the PTI will hold a big rally Friday at the Parade Avenue subject to a go-ahead from the local administration. 

The party leadership also decided that immediately after the apex court's judgement, the PTI would have another session in the light of the judgement to thrash out its future line of action, as it wanted to step up the mass contact drive in the twin cities and in other major cities and provincial capitals in coming weeks and months.

Closely watching the Thursday’s developments, including prime minister’s function at Bhikki and appearance banners in his support, the PTI leadership noted it with concern and recalled how the PML-N leaders and activists had ransacked the Supreme Court when Justice Sajjad Ali Shah was its chief justice. 

Later, talking to reporters, PTI Vice Chairman Shah Mahmood Qureshi said that Chairman PTI Imran Khan asked the party leadership to be ready as a big rally would be announced at a short notice of 24 hours.

Qureshi said that the government tried its best to push the Panama issue under the carpet but it was the PTI and its committed workers who kept the issue alive. He believed that had the PTI and its workers not stood for justice over the Panama Papers, the issue would have died already.

“PTI spoke up for the people of Pakistan and cleared the misconception that the rulers did not care about corruption,” he emphasised.  The veteran politician from Multan pointed out that whenever the PTI started a mass contact drive, the ruling party started hue and cry about it. “We have made it clear earlier that we would not allow the system to derail and wanted to take forward the accountability process,” he maintained.

Qureshi noted that that discussions within the PTI were already continuing over the possible strategy after the decision of the Panama Leaks case. On this occasion, he appreciated the role of the media for keeping the issue alive. “Whatever the Panama decision would be, I think that people have already made a decision on the case,” he believed. 

It is needless to say that besides the PML-N and the Sharif family, a lot of PTI is at stake with regards to the Panama case judgement.  Pakistan Muslim League (PML) President Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain has said that the Panama case decision would bring a revolution in the country and now corrupt persons will face strict accountability. Hussain said the decision would make history. Judges will drive the country on right direction and no thief will be safe, he added.