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Nawaz criticizes army for ‘plotting his ouster’

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Pakistan’s ousted PM | Farewell but not goodbye!
  • Asma Jehangir says courts will rue the day
  • Says military must ‘conform’

ISLAMABAD: Following disqualification by a five-member bench of Pakistan’s Supreme Court, the country’s deposed prime minister Mian Muhammad Nawaz Sharif accused the military establishment of plotting his ouster through the courts, in a public statement the other day.

His continuous statements, indicating an even worse civil-military conflict in days to come, also indicate he plans a broader “dialogue” to demolish any future effort to derail democracy in Pakistan. Nawaz — almost not mincing words — accused the country’s powerful military establishment of manipulating and derailing democratic regimes and said that not even a single PM in the history of Pakistan has able to complete the five-year term of office because of this.

“Eighteen prime ministers of the country failed to complete their due term while four military dictators ruled the country for several consecutive years in the past,” Sharif said in one public speech while going to his hometown after the disqualification.

“Military dictators have ruled the country for an average of eight years each, elected prime ministers have only been allowed two years on average and what does that say about our country?” he asked. He said the Panama Case was merely a tool and the matter was deliberately complicated to create a political crisis for “certain gains”.

“The sanctity of votes needs to be protected,” he added, referring to his recently announced ‘mission’ to “restore the people’s mandate”. In his recent address to his party’s lawyers, Nawaz disclosed his mission “to shut down the means through which democracies are derailed and elected leaders are sent home.” In his speeches, while criticizing the judgment by which he was shown the door, Sharif said no judge had the right to send him home and violate the sanctity of a ballot by the people.

Pakistan’s Supreme Court ousted Nawaz Sharif on July 28 while deciding the Panama Papers case against Sharif and his children. He was accused of owning luxurious London properties through offshore companies named in the Panama list. The judgment was supported by a Joint Investigation Team (JIT), formed by the court, consisting of the Military Intelligence and army-run national spy agency – Inter Services Intelligence (ISI), apparently, for credibility and fearing manipulation by Sharif on civilian members of the JIT. The case lasted several months and the accused members of the Sharif family failed to prove a money trail in the purchase of their London properties, to the court and the JIT.

Inter Services Public Relations – official response department of Pakistan Army– publicly denied such impressions and allegations of any involvement in the Panama case against Sharif and his family except “assisting the court and its reps in the JIT on the court’s direction.”

Opposition parties, denounced Sharif for his verbal attacks on the judiciary and military and accused him of being power hungry.

Sharif and his children have moved a review petition in SC against the judgment, which will be heard in the next few days. In his petition, Sharif has asked the court to restore him and set aside the orders against him.

“Our leader (Nawaz Sharif) will emerge stronger from the current crisis. We will come back and block the ways and means of running the country undemocratically,” a senior leader of Sharif’s party Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz (PMLN) told Newslens. “We will go to the people’s court for justice,” he said, accusing opposition parties of picking on him. He called Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf leader Imran Khan a “’show boy” for “certain powers”. He said this was not first time that Sharif’s regime was toppled. Without directly pointing a finger at the military establishment, he said a conspiracy was hatched to oust Sharif and that his party would name the conspirators soon.

Pakistan Institute of Legislative Development and Transparency (PILDAT), an Islamabad based think tank, said in its latest report on the political situation “all is not well with civil-military relations. On the other hand Army Chief General Qamar Bajwa has also issued a public statement saying the Army would uphold the supremacy of the constitution and rule of law.” The Army normally doesn’t give such statements,” PILDAT head Ahmed Bilal Mehboob said, fearing civil-military relations could worsen in the near future.

Pakistan’s top rights activist and lawyer Asma Jahangir told Newslens “Footprints of the military establishment’s involvement vis a vis the Panama Case investigation through the MI and ISI representatives are obvious,” objecting to the inclusion of these members in the JIT probing the case against Nawaz Sharif and his family.

“If we want a democratic progressive Pakistan we have to close the doors opened by former military dictatorships. And for that we have to stand up,” she said, adding, “If Pakistani’s army wants to come into politics we will not surrender our rights. We will defeat their guns with our pens and voices. Pakistan’s defense budget should also be debated and discussed in  parliament rather than being shrouded in secrecy” she continued, criticizing the military’s involvement in politics and the judiciary’s role over the years, wondering why only politicians were held accountable in Pakistan. “The Panama judgment will haunt the court,” she said.

Pakistan’s oppositions parties have warned of mass protests if the ruling PMLN, still controlled by Sharif from home, took any step to change laws or amend the constitution to cripple the judiciary and the Army to punish them for his ouster. -NEWSLENS

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