A day after he was disqualified by the Supreme Court from leading his party, Pakistan’s deposed Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has alleged that efforts were being made to “oust” him from politics for life. Sharif spoke to the media after appearing before the accountability court in Islamabad where he is being tried for alleged corruption in the Panama Papers case.
“This decision (disqualification from leading a party) is not unexpected for me. First, they paralysed the executive and yesterday they snatched the powers of parliament,” he said.
He did not specify who he meant by “they” but apparently it was a reference to the judges of the top court.
Sharif, 68, was disqualified as Prime Minister by the apex court in July last year under Article 62 for failing to declare a receivable salary as an asset. He said Wednesday’s decision was a continuation of the apex court verdict of July 28 when he was sacked as Prime Minister, and added that “deliberations were being made to oust him from politics for life”.
“In the decision of July 28 my premiership was snatched. In the decision of yesterday the post of president of Pakistan Muslim League (N) was snatched. My name is Muhammad Nawaz Sharif. If you want to snatch this name from me, go ahead and take it away,” he said.
He criticised the decision of the court which said the Election Act 2017 was “person-specific” to facilitate Sharif to lead his party, adding that “decisions of the Supreme Court are Nawaz Sharif-specific”.
“These decisions are being given in anger and smack of vengeance,” he said.
Sharif appeared in court accompanied by daughter Maryam and son-in-law Mohammad Safdar, who are co-accused in one of the three cases. It was his 18th appearance in the court. The court reserved judgement on objections by Sharif about supplementary references by the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) and postponed the hearing until Thursday afternoon. It also decided to record statements of two UK-based witnesses via video link.
Later, Sharif consulted his party leaders during a high-level meeting about the implications of the decision and appointing a new president of the PML-N. Sources said Sharif’s ailing wife Kulsoom Nawaz and his younger brother Shahbaz were favourites to get the coveted post of PML-N president. Some party leaders favour Yaqoob Nasir or Raja Zafarul Haq as interim president before settling on a permanent choice, according to sources.
Earlier, when Sharif stepped down as Prime Minister and PML-N chief after his disqualification by the Supreme Court, Nasir had been appointed as interim president of the party. Sharif later on took over leadership of party after Election Law 2017 removed the disqualification bar to become head of a political party.
Sharif was given a warm welcome when he arrived at the Punjab House to participate in the meeting.
Meanwhile, PML-N leaders rejected the decision by the court and promised that the party would bounce back to win the election this year. Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi said the PML-N had faced a “worse time than the existing one and will overcome all difficulties”.
Minister of State for Information Marriyum Aurangzeb said the future of the party will be decided in consultation with the senior leadership but that Sharif would take final decisions about who will lead the party. The decision of court was welcomed by Sharif’s arch rival Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf chief Imran Khan who today claimed that Sharif had secretly met Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
“What sort of leader Sharif is, as he met Modi in secret because he wanted to keep it secret from the army,” Khan said without sharing any details of the alleged meeting.
Sharif and some of his family members are facing charges relating to their ownership of posh properties in London. Three cases were registered by the National Accountability Bureau against Sharif, his children and son-in-law in the court on September 8.