ISLAMABAD: The Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) has decided to give the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) a “tough time” if the party’s supreme leader Nawaz Sharif is sent to jail in Al-Azizia and Flagship references.
The line of action was decided in a meeting of the top party leadership under the chairmanship of Nawaz and president Shehbaz Sharif, which came a day after the accountability court reserved a joint verdict in the graft cases, scheduled to be announced on December 24, Monday.
In the absence of Nawaz and Shehbaz, the party would be run a by an advisory board, comprising senior lawmakers of the main opposition party. It has been said that the PML-N supreme leader would select the lawmakers for the committee by Friday.
However, if the verdict is in Nawaz’s favour, then he will address the Founding Day event of the party in Lahore on December 30. If he does address it, then senior party members will also address the ceremony.
Moreover, the PML-N in a bid to ramp up its opposition against the government has decided to approach like-minded opposition parties to give a hard time to the PTI. It also aims to initiate a mass contact movement from the party workers’ convention by the end of the month.
The huddle also decided that there would be “no compromise on civilian supremacy”.
During the meeting, the PML-N supremo instructed party members to finalise the membership structure by March and to stay in touch with the nation through social media cell headed by spokesperson Marriyum Aurangzeb.
‘WAS IN POLITICS FOR SERVICE’:
Addressing the meeting, the ex-PM said he joined politics to serve people and “was never involved in corruption” as evident by the fact that “[Sharif] family [also] faced accountability in the past and came out victorious”.
He said that he will leave the decision to Allah and people, reiterating that “corruption references filed against him were based on assumptions and not on hard facts, which the nation is well aware of”.
NAWAZ, SHEHBAZ MEET:
Before the meeting, Nawaz met his incarcerated brother and former Punjab chief minister Shehbaz Sharif at the Parliament House.
According to reports, Nawaz entered the building via the back entrance and held a one-on-one meeting with Shehbaz wherein both brothers reportedly discussed current political scenario and graft cases.
Before he left the House, Nawaz spoke to reporters of his hopes of a positive outcome of the current political scenario due to decisions taken by the senior party leadership.
He was also full of praise of his party’s tenure in the country and claimed that the country progressed on all fronts when he was in power. He added that his government “ended load shedding, curbed terrorism, constructed the Lahore-Islamabad motorway and initiated the landmark China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) project”.
He also added that under his tenure, national defence measures were maximised.
Blaming the ruling party for the rise of inflation, he claimed that his party had kept checks on inflation to safeguard the poor, who are buckling under the dire economic crisis.
Nawaz, who is on bail in the Avenfield case, was also named in two other graft references, namely Flagship and Al-azizia in the Panama Papers inquiry conducted by Supreme Court-mandated JIT.
Earlier in Dec, the top court extended the original six-month deadline for the seventh time, while directing the trial court to wrap up the remaining two references and announce the verdict on December 24, Monday.
SC had initially set a six-month deadline to conclude the four corruption references against the Sharif family. The trial against the Sharif family commenced on September 14, 2017.
On July 6, after four extensions in the original six-month deadline to conclude all three cases, the court had announced its verdict in the Avenfield reference.
Nawaz, Maryam and Safdar were sentenced to 10, seven and one year of imprisonment, respectively, in absentia by Accountability Judge Muhammad Bashir. They, however, were released on bail by the Islamabad High Court after a few months.
Following the conviction, Nawaz, through his counsel filed a petition in the IHC that sought transfer of cases to another court, pleading “since the evidence and the arguments in all three references were similar, the outcome may be the same if the same judge heard the case”.
Subsequently, Judge Bashir recused and the cases were transferred to the court of AC Judge Muhammad Arshad. Unlike Avenfield reference, the court had also announced to give a joint verdict in remaining two corruption references against former prime minister Nawaz Sharif and his family.