Nawaz Sharif returns to stand up against judiciary
The Sharif family can always be counted on to present the nation with a new drama every season and Nawaz Sharif’s recent visit to Pakistan was nothing short of the usual gimmickry.
While appearing defiant on the outside, the former premier nonetheless graced the country with his presence and faced the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) court.
The year-long Panama battle did lead to Nawaz’s disqualification from the Premiership but his party, despite its apparent differences, continues to fight tooth and nail to bring him back on the throne.
Even after being held accountable for corruption allegations and a humiliating disqualification, Nawaz continues to complain that he has been forced out based on false accusations and openly criticises state institutions for conspiring against him.
In a recent press conference, the deposed prime minister called out to the public and urged them to show their support and stand up against the judiciary that has targeted him for allegations that could be proven.
He said that despite the fact that the accusations levelled against him could not be proven, the powerful institutions were adamant to attack his authority and remove him from the seat.
“Nawaz intends to confront the military establishment through public support,” said Rasool Baksh Rais, political scientist and professor.
“He believes winning the general majority in the election is the only way to bring him back.”
Nawaz Sharif was disqualified from holding public office under the Supreme Court’s Panama Papers case verdict.
But despite all odds, he is set to once again take charge as the elected head of Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) after an amendment to the Political Party Order (PPO) section of the Elections Bill 2017.
The clause that did not allow a person ‘disqualified under article 63 to hold office’ has now been removed and passed by the National Assembly without even being noticed by the opposition.
“The approval of the amendment to the bill was a weakness on the part of the opposition,” said columnist and analyst, Ayaz Amir.
The recent by-elections result was an indication of the deeply embedded influence of the Sharif family into the political system.
The election campaign run by Maryam Nawaz was more aggressively confrontational and showed clear signs of defiance against the judiciary and other state institutions by the next generation of ruling elites.
After running out of arguments, the family has been criticised for playing the victim card.
“Zardari and Nawaz are intending to stage a powerful comeback but the court ‘has the court’,” said Rais.
Nawaz complains of being the only one attacked by the establishment for hiding his wealth, although many politicians have been named in the Panama Papers.
However, Nawaz and his supporters choose to remain oblivious to the fact that the reason why he was targeted the most is because he was holding the most prestigious seat being the prime minister of a country that is crippled under corruption and terrorism.
“Disregarding the SC verdict and questioning the integrity of the security forces without actually naming the military it is just one of the defence mechanisms of the Sharif leadership,” said Rasool Baksh Rais. “Nawaz’s move is confrontational against the establishment and discrediting the superior judiciary will do more harm than good.”
On the other hand, some have also praised Nawaz for being the only known politician for standing up and facing the accountability court, a move that politicians are not expected to make.
He has been lauded for respecting the law simply by showing up in the court.
“Nawaz Sharif was the only serving prime minister who had presented himself before the SC for accountability,” said Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) leader Mushahidullah Khan.
“The Joint Investigation Team’s (JIT) proceedings were a clear indication of bias even before the results came out, and even some of the workings were against the law.”
Despite the prolonged Panama Case probe, it was inevitable that the Sharifs must face trial in court.
“Nawaz had no choice but to face the court. There is no way he could have flouted the law,” said Ayaz Amir. “They said they wouldn’t face the court but they did because there was no alternative.”
Nawaz relies on the ‘court of people’ but their complete disregard for the judiciary and their absence from the country is a representation of a privileged mindset that distances them from the masses.
PML-N has forever used the excuse that protecting Nawaz translates into protecting democracy as a shield from every action taken against him based on charges of corruption.
“It’s about time Nawaz Sharif stops misusing the government’s authority and intelligence bureau to create a rivalry between different institutions of the state,” said Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) leader Naeemul Haque.
“Nawaz must be held accountable for financial crimes, betraying the country, and looting the public,” he said. “The law should be the same for everyone.”
Nawaz’s ‘larger than life’ attitude against any allegations against him is a refusal to acknowledge the law and the legal system.
“Attacking the SC and the army was a typical move from Nawaz but the throne has come down and the party must come to terms with reality,” said Ayaz Amir.
Nonetheless, Nawaz’s return was impactful enough to keep the audience buzzing about the political future of the country.