LAHORE: As Maryam Nawaz claims her father Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif is “not anxious”, the ruling PML-N camp remained tense and spent Wednesday by checking with the party stalwarts about the possible verdict of Supreme Court in Panama case to be announced today (Thursday).

From councillor to lawmaker, all those affiliated with the ruling party were worried about the fate of the premier. They were unsure whether their leader could get a ‘clean chit’ from the apex court or not.

Some of them Dawn spoke to admitted that ‘fear of unknown’ was there because the way this case unfolded, it was not easy to predict the apex court verdict and its outcome.

On Wednesday, the PML-N arranged a special event to charge up its local body representatives in Lahore. A number of local body representatives and some MPAs of the PML-N watched live on a big screen the inauguration of Bhiki Power Plant in Sheikhupura by PM Sharif at the Town Hall. They also chanted slogans - “Nawaz Sharif teray jan nisar beshumar” (Nawaz Sharif you have countless lovers who can lay their lives for him)” to express solidarity with their leader.

“It is not unusual that the PML-N people have gathered to watch a Nawaz Sharif event on big screen like people watch a live cricket match. You know tomorrow (Thursday) is (the day of ) Panama (case) decision and we have gathered here to see our leader in high spirit and not worried about the challenge he is facing,” a vice-chairman told Dawn. He said he had asked a senior party leader, who is considered close to the Sharif brothers, what would happen on Thursday (today), he simply replied: “Nothing...chill it out. The PM is here to stay.”

PML-N Lahore president MNA Pervaiz Malik denied the event was organised to charge up party workers for post-Panama verdict scenario. “Since all of us could not go to Bhiki, Sheikhupura, we decided to watch the ceremony here,” he said and was quick to add no such plan (of charging up workers) had been chalked out. “We will show a mature reaction to the verdict,” he said and added that flexes displayed in the city in favour of Nawaz Sharif was ‘work of some individuals’ and not in line with the party policy.

It was the work of Railways Minister Khawaja Saad Rafique and company who coined the slogan - Qauid tera aik ishara hazir hazir lahu hamara (Chief we are ready to shed our blood on your one call).

To a question about any anxiety in the PML-N camp, Mr Malik said: “Fear of unknown is there but we are hopeful that the verdict will be in favour of Nawaz Sharif.”

PML-N MPA Hina Pervaiz Butt said: “The PML-N camp is confident that the premier will not be disqualified. He is focused on his work and goals and nothing can distract him as he is not guilty. The verdict will be in accordance with the law and not the expectations of the Opposition.”

She further said the PM’s name was not in Panama. “It is PTI that dragged him (Nawaz) in this controversy. Thursday (today) verdict will disappoint Imran Khan because Nawaz Sharif is not going to be disqualified by the SC,” she added.

Meanwhile, in a series of tweets Maryam Nawaz dispelled the impression that the premier was worried about the expected judgement in Panam case. “People love Nawaz Sharif. It is not about the PM speaking. It’s what he’s speaking. His narrative is constructive and about development and progress. Eyes forward, mind focused, heart ready...game on, world ! Wazir-e-Azam Nawaz Sharif,” one of her Tweet says.

She also taunted the PTI saying: “When all your plans have miserably failed and your precarious future hinges on... your best bet is a court decision.”

On the other hand, there was a lot of excitement in the PTI camp which believes that the verdict would not be in favour of Nawaz Sharif.

The PPP appears to be a kind of ‘silent spectator’. “We are neither excited nor over-excited. Considering the past, the PPP never got favourable court decisions. This time a ‘historic’ decision may come in Panama case,” PPP senior leader Naveed Chaudhry told Dawn.

Published in Dawn, April 20th, 2017

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