–PTI, AML term conviction of deposed premier as ‘historic decision’
–Zardari says verdict will help PML-N politically, while Khursheed Shah finds timing wrong
–ANP, JI for across-the-board accountability
ISLAMABAD: There was a mixed reaction to the accountability court’s verdict in the Avenfield properties corruption reference, handing ousted prime minister Nawaz Sharif 10 years as jail time for owning assets beyond his known sources of income and one year for not cooperating with the accountability watchdog, while his daughter Maryam Nawaz was handed 7 years for abettment, and one year for non-cooperation with the bureau.
Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) and Awami Muslim League termed the verdict historical, while other political parties called for across-the-board accountability.
Nawaz’s main rival, PTI Chairman Imran Khan said it was the first time that the powerful were being held accountable in the country.
Addressing an election rally in Timergara, Imran Khan said Nawaz Sharif’s children gave contradictory statements regarding their ownership of London apartments, adding that the deposed premier’s sons had accepted ownership of the properties on television.
Imran said that July 26 will see the dawn of a ‘new Pakistan’.
He also lamented the lodging of several cases against him in a bid to silence his struggle in exposing the Sharif family’s corruption.
‘VERDICT TO BENEFIT NAWAZ’:
Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) Co-Chairman Asif Zardari recalled that his party had asked for the decision on the London properties matter in the parliament, but “they [PML-N] did not agree.”
He said that Nawaz Sharif will get political benefit from this verdict, adding that the deposed premier will now monitor the matters from London.
The PPP co-chairman also feared that non-state actors could instigate hooliganism. “The candidates of all parties except the PTI are under pressure,” he declared.
He said the fact is that the vote bank was of Nawaz Sharif, and Shehbaz Sharif did not have the same political following, adding that Nawaz has the right to move high courts and Supreme Court to get relief.
‘FIRST TIME IN HISTORY’:
Awami Muslim League chief Sheikh Rasheed Ahmed remarked that a political bigwig has been sentenced for the first time in Pakistan’s history.
“There is no doubt that Maryam Nawaz forged signature in the Panama Papers case. The documents were forged,” he claimed.
Rasheed remarked that Nawaz Sharif wants the people to come out on the roads against the Avenfield verdict. “They expect those people to come out to whom they didn’t even provide basic facilities,” he said. However, he added that all the guilty persons haven’t been punished, adding “the story of Model Town cruelty is still left.”
Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf member Jehangir Khan Tareen tweeted that Nawaz Sharif had fabricated a narrative that he was ousted for holding Iqama (work permit), adding that the former premier has been sentenced for being a ‘thief and money launderer’.
NS’s fabricated narrative that he got ousted only for holding an Iqama, has been torn to shreds after NAB Court’s historic verdict. ‘Mujhe Kyun Nikala Sharif’ finally gets the answer that he has been jailed for being a Chor & a Money Launderer. Great victory for Pakistan 😊
— Jahangir Khan Tareen (@JahangirKTareen) July 6, 2018
“NS’s fabricated narrative that he got ousted only for holding an Iqama, has been torn to shreds after NAB Court’s historic verdict. ‘Mujhe Kyun Nikala Sharif’ finally gets the answer that he has been jailed for being a Chor & a Money Launderer. Great victory for Pakistan,” Tareen tweeted.
‘TIMING IS WRONG’:
Former opposition leader in the National Assembly and PPP stalwart Khursheed Shah rejected the verdict, adding that its timing is wrong.
“Announcing the verdict so close to the elections can have multiple meanings,” he said. According to the PPP leader, the verdict should have been announced three months earlier.
“Nawaz will benefit from this verdict,” he said.
‘RIDICULOUS COMPARISON WITH BHUTTO’:
Referring to the Avenfield flats verdict, when someone tried to compare the fate of Nawaz Sharif with that of PPP founder and former prime minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, Senate Opposition Leader and PPP leader Sherry Rehman called it “a ridiculous comparison”, asserting that “political martyrdom is a bloody crown to wear”.
I’m sorry we don’t distribute sweets at anyone’s misfortune or verdict, but SZAB went to the gallows at the hands of Pakistan’s worst dictator;refused to ask for pardon. He didn’t run, he didn’t hide.This is a ridiculous comparison. Political martyrdom is a bloody crown to wear https://t.co/pMuOdaiDsM
— SenatorSherryRehman (@sherryrehman) July 6, 2018
She added, “I’m sorry we don’t distribute sweets at anyone’s misfortune or verdict, but SZAB went to the gallows at the hands of Pakistan’s worst dictator; refused to ask for pardon. He didn’t run, he didn’t hide.”
‘OTHERS IN PANAMAGATE SHOULD ALSO BE HELD ACCOUNTABLE’:
Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) chief Sirajul Haq expressed his concern regarding the anticipated delay in polls due to the verdict.
“The verdict against Nawaz should not influence the forthcoming elections,” he said while speaking to media, stressing that the polls should not be rescheduled following the verdict.
Sirajul Haq reiterated his demand to hold all the 436 people listed in the Panama Papers accountable. “Nation wants across the board accountability,” he added.
‘POLITICALLY MOTIVATED ACCOUNTABILITY’:
Talking to Pakistan Today, Awami National Party (ANP) spokesperson Zahid Khan said that selective and politically motivated accountability would serve no purpose and we have to look into it whether or not justice has been done in the case.
He said that since the establishment of the NAB, Nawaz Sharif is the first politician who was punished and the trial has been run with an extra pace that raised serious questions. ANP favours across the court accountability, he said.
Zahid said that every individual should be held accountable to clean the country of corruption and corrupt people and the accountability should not only be person-specific or politicians-specific.
The ANP spokesperson said that the verdict would have a political implication since the case has been politicalized, adding that if the legal formalities have been fulfilled and due and fair chance has been given to Nawaz Sharif to defend himself than it’s alright, however, if it meant to merely punish him, it would have no service of the democracy and the country.