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PML-N leaders erect flexes in the city on Tuesday to lend support to Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif ahead of Panama verdict. — Dawn
PML-N leaders erect flexes in the city on Tuesday to lend support to Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif ahead of Panama verdict. — Dawn

LAHORE: As the Supreme Court is going to announce the much-awaited Panama case verdict tomorrow (Thursday), the ruling PML-N weighs the option of early election in case of an adverse decision while Pakistan Tahreek-i-Insaf expects disqualification of the premier.

“The option of early election (this year) is being discussed by the leadership in case the apex court’s decision affects Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif,” a PML-N insider told Dawn on Tuesday.

He said there had been two points of view in the party in case of adverse verdict; one supporting the option of going into early election so that the PTI could not exploit the situation. This camp believes the party can easily retain its present position in next polls.

The other group in the PML-N is against going for early election. “We should complete our tenure no matter what the decision is. The party should go for the option of replacing PM Sharif as early election will not be a good option,” he said, adding the top leadership had sought the views of all those party stalwarts who mattered.

Punjab Law Minister Rana Sanaullah who is a close aide to Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif said the party was quite optimistic that apex court’s decision would not affect the prime minister since his name was not in the Panama case and there was no evidence of wrongdoing against him. “However, in case the decision somehow affects the premier I am of the view that we (PML-N) should go into the polls as per scheduled in 2018,” Sanaullah told Dawn.

He said Nawaz Sharif would be “1,000 times more powerful” sitting outside the prime minister’s house. “Nawaz rules the hearts of the people. Imran Khan has no chance (to win) neither in early nor in 2018 elections,” he said

Meanwhile, PML-N legislators have displayed flexes in favour of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif in the city.

The wording chosen by Khawaja Saad Rafique, Yasin Sohail and Mian Naseer Ahmed is quite suggestive. “Qauid tera aik ishara hazir hazir lahu hamara (Chief we are ready to shed our blood on your call).

Different PML-N hawks want the apex court give ‘clean chit’ to their leader in the Panama case. They say the people will not accept the court decision if it is against their leader.

A PML-N official told Dawn that his party would not give the field to the PTI to cash in on the Panama verdict. “Though we are sitting silent right now, we have our plans to deal with the post-Panama verdict situation,” he said.On the other hand, PTI, the main petitioner in the Panama case, said it was very excited and hopeful that PM Sharif would be sent home on Thursday. “We are expecting Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s disqualification in the light of evidence presented against him in the court,” PTI Secretasry General Jehangir Tareen told Dawn.

He said except the Qatari letter which also had no legal value the family of the premier could not present anything substantial to defend itself in the Panama case that revealed the off-shore holdings of Nawaz Sharif’s children.

“Hudabia case of money laundering will also be re-oponed in the wake of the apex court’s verdict,” Tareen said, adding the PTI might hold a series of public meetings and rallies after the decision.

“The party leadership is holding an important meeting on Wednesday (today) to discuss its post-Panama verdict strategy,” he said and added the decision would have a far reaching impact on the country’s politics.

Jammat-i-Islami chief Senator Sirajul Haq said the Panama case decision would result in a “major change” in the country. “It is hoped that the decision will help stamp out corrupt system. April 20 will be remembered for the apex court’s land mark decision,” he said.

Published in Dawn, April 19th, 2017