Tuesday May 17, 2022

Month of April has brought more sorrow for Nawaz than joy

April 15, 2018

LAHORE: The month of April has brought more moments of despair and despondency for the now-ousted Pakistani Premier Nawaz Sharif than the brief periods of joy and jubilation, a peek into his eventful political career reveals.

Gleeful moments for Nawaz Sharif during April:

It was on April 9, 1985 that Nawaz Sharif had risen to the slot of Punjab’s Chief Minister, a platform that has since helped him emerge as a key player in country’s political arena during these last 33 years.

And it was on April 19, 2010 that the-then Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari had voluntarily signed the 18th Amendment to the Constitution, significantly diminishing his powers. Among the sweeping changes was a measure removing the two-term limit for prime ministers, allowing Nawaz Sharif to vie for a third term.

Moments of desolation and dejection for Nawaz during April:

April, the fourth month of the year in the Gregorian calendar, has proved unlucky for the country's three-time ruler on a good number of occasions.

Here follow some details in this context:

Some 261 days after Nawaz Sharif was disqualified on July 28, 2017 (Friday) from holding public office by the Supreme Court he has now been disqualified for life through a unanimous verdict of the larger Supreme Court bench on April 13, 2018 (Friday).

The first time the month of April had brought misery for Nawaz Sharif was in 1993 when the-then President Ghulam Ishaq Khan had dissolved the National Assembly on April 18 of that year by using his reserve powers under the now-defunct Article 58-2b of the 1973 Constitution.

Ghulam Ishaq Khan had sent Nawaz Sharif packing after the-then incumbent Premier had developed serious issues with him over authority.

Although Mir Balakh Sher Mazari was appointed Interim Prime Minister by President Ghulam Ishaq Khan, Nawaz Sharif had out rightly rejected the Presidential act and moved the Supreme Court, which overturned the-then Pakistani head of state's decision to the sheer delight of the man who was given a pink slip just a month back and shown the door.

Consequently, on May 26, 1993, Sharif had returned to power after the Supreme Court ruled that the Presidential Order as unconstitutional and reconstituted the National Assembly with immediate effect.

However, Nawaz Sharif's triumph was short-lived as his issues with the President over authority persisted and a political standoff had led both warring parties to relinquish offices, 'courtesy' an intervention by the-then Army Chief General Abdul Waheed Kakar and the Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee of the time, General Shamim Allam Khan.

It was on April 6, 2000 that Nawaz Sharif was convicted by court of hijacking a commercial airliner.

He was sentenced to life imprisonment rather than death and ordered to forfeit all his personal property.

The April 7, 2000 edition of the "New York Times" had stated: "Standing along with six co-defendants who were acquitted, the balding, doughy Mr. Sharif barely blinked when the judgment was read. A shriek from his daughter, Maryam Safdar, broke the silence. ''Have fear of God!'' she cried. Her mother, Kulsoom Nawaz, attempting stoicism, shushed her and other relatives who had begun to wail. Mr. Sharif, 52, was then quickly led away. His family and followers, many clutching copies of the Koran, tried to chase after him, shouting, ''Long live Nawaz Sharif!''

The prestigious American newspaper had asserted: "Mr. Sharif's crime was not, of course, an ordinary hijacking, at least as most of the world understands the term. No weapon was used. Mr. Sharif was not even aboard the aircraft. His crime was to issue orders, which he later rescinded, telling ground control to refuse landing permission to a Karachi-bound airliner, sending it out of the country. The plane, according to the pilot, then ran low on fuel, and the lives of everyone on board were endangered. Among the 198 people on the plane was Gen. Pervez Musharraf, who came to power that day in a coup." It was in April 2016 that the alleged hidden wealth of some of the world’s most prominent leaders, politicians and celebrities, including Nawaz Shartif, was revealed by an unprecedented leak of 1.5 million documents that gave details of the financial and attorney–client information for more than 214,488 offshore entities all over the globe.

As soon as the Panama Leaks had surfaced, Pakistan's political opposition led chiefly by Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf (PTI) hadd started urging Nawaz to step down as he had lost the moral authority to stay in power.

Nawaz Shartif refused to do so and ultimately Imran Khan had opted to move the Apex Court against his arch political rival.

The Panama Papers case (officially titled Imran Khan Niazi versus Mian Muhammad Nawaz Sharif) or the Panamagate case was a legal case before the Supreme Court of Pakistan, heard between November 1, 2016 and 23 February 23, 2017.

The Supreme Court of Pakistan then disqualified Sharif from holding public office in a unanimous verdict on July 28, 2017 over his failure to disclose his 'un-withdrawn receivables, constituting assets' in his nomination papers filed ahead of the 2013 general elections.

The Supreme Court of Pakistan likes giving historic verdicts on Fridays:

By the way, apart from the July 28, 2017 (Friday) verdict against Nawaz Sharif in Panama Case and the decision involving former Premier's disqualification for life on April 13, 2018 (Friday), some more historic cases were also adjudicated by the Supreme Court of Pakistan on this fifth day of the week.

For example, on July 20, 2007 (Friday), a 13-member bench of the Supreme Court had set aside the Presidential reference against the Chief Justice of Pakistan, Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, and declared invalid the Presidential action sending the Chief Justice on forced leave.

The Chief Justice, who was deposed on March 9, 2007 by the then Pakistani head of state General Musharraf, was reinstated in office as a result of this decision.

By majority of 10 to 3 (with Justice Faqir Muhammad Khokhar, Justice Javed Buttar and Justice Saiyed Saeed Ashhad dissenting), the Constitution Original Petition No.21 of 2007 filed by Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, the Chief Justice of Pakistan, was hence set aside by the learned court.

On September 28, 2007 (Friday), the Supreme Court had allowed the then President Pervez Musharraf to contest the Presidential election in uniform. The court had finished hearing opposition petitions that said Musharraf, a key US ally who led a coup eight years ago in October 1999, was ineligible to contest the Presidential election on October 6, 2007 while he was still serving as Army chief.

It was also a Friday (July 31, 2009) when the Supreme Court of Pakistan had declared all the steps taken on November 3, 2007 by the then President Pervez Musharraf as illegal and unconstitutional under the Article 279 of the Constitutional in the Provisional Constitutional Order Judges case (also known as the PCO Judges case).