Political parties mull post-verdict strategies

Updated April 20, 2017

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ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif chairs a meeting of the Sindh PML-N on Wednesday.— Online
ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif chairs a meeting of the Sindh PML-N on Wednesday.— Online

ISLAMABAD: As the countdown to the eagerly-awaited Supreme Court verdict in the Panamagate case began on Wednesday, the three main political parties — the Pakistan Muslim League-N (PML-N), Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) and Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) — held meetings to finalise their strategies post-Panamagate.

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif chaired a party meeting at the Prime Minister House where he appeared to be unfazed.

Adding to this, his daughter Maryam Nawaz tweeted: “Not for once have I seen my father or any member of the family anxious or concerned. That’s what happens when [you] entrust [your] matters to Allah.”

For his part, PTI chairman Imran Khan expressed the hope that the prime minister would not be given a ‘clean chit’ in the verdict and would be penalised in some way for “hiding his and his family’s assets off shore”. The PTI announced a public meeting at the Parade Ground following the apex court’s decision in the case.

The PPP leadership met at the federal capital where party co-chairperson Asif Ali Zardari said he did not expect much from the verdict.

PPP spokesperson Senator Farhatullah Babar said his party would decide its future line of action after the verdict announcement. He said the party leadership would meet again at 2pm on Thursday, “to sit together to listen to the verdict”.


Maryam says father ‘not anxious’; PTI chief hopes Sharif won’t get ‘clean chit’ in Panamagate case


Speaking to Dawn, PML-N leader Nehal Hashmi said the prime minister appeared confident and calm during the meeting. He said the PM had not discussed the Panama issue in detail and only touched upon it. He quoted the prime minister as saying: “I am not waiting for any decision.” He said the prime minister was of the view that people had elected him to serve them, not to wait for decisions.

Responding to a question about some banners inscribed with the slogan: “Quaid tera aik ishara, hazir hazir lahoo hamara” (We are ready to shed each drop of our blood on our leader’s order), which had appeared in various places in Lahore, Mr Hashmi said they had not discussed the issue at the meeting.

Information Minister Marriyum Aurangzeb, however, said in an interview on a private TV channel that there was no harm in placing the banners. She said PML-N supporters were tired of the PTI’s allegations against their leaders. “The sentiments of our party workers were building up, which they then expressed in the banners,” she added.

She said that the prime minister had stopped party workers from proceeding to the Supreme Court on Thursday to avoid any possible untoward incident.

Earlier in his meeting with party leaders, the prime minister had lashed out at the PPP government in Sindh and urged party workers to gear up their political activities there. “If anybody has not performed their duty in Sindh, they should be ready to face the consequences. Our opponents have the right to do the same in the Punjab,” he added.

He was hopeful that the PML-N will perform well in the general elections in Sindh next year. He also directed party workers to work hard to mitigate the grievances of people in the province.

Mr Khan, while presiding over a meeting of the party’s core committee, announced a public meeting at the Parade Ground after Panamagate verdict on Thursday, but cautioned party workers not to go to the Supreme Court when the verdict is announced.

He congratulated party workers for their continued struggle against corruption in the country and in pursuing the Panamagate case in the apex court. “After the verdict of the Supreme Court, there will a significant difference between today’s and tomorrow’s Pakistan,” he said.

Mr Khan said the people had realised that corruption was the root of all problems in the country and they had to get rid of it. “The future of Pakistan is waiting for the PTI,” he said.

The party’s vice chairman, Shah Mehmood Qureshi, said the issue of Panama Papers would have been buried had it not been pursued aggressively by the PTI. “We do not want to derail the system but [want] accountability of all,” he added.

Talking to Dawn, PTI leader Arif Alvi said his party was quite confident that the prime minister will not be given a ‘clean chit’ in the verdict. “Now the question is whether the prime minister will be beaten up with a broom or a stick,” he said.

As #PakistanAwaitsJustice and #PanamaCase continued to trend throughout the day, journalists from various media houses weighed in.

Gharidah Farooqi tweeted: Spoke to top PML-N [leaders] in [Islamabad and Lahore]. They are not ready for any verdict directly against PM; but are ready to accept de-seating of Captain Safdar.

Asad Kharal, who had authored a book presented as evidence in the case, tweeted: Result of Asghar Khan Case’s verdict is before us, what happened? What action [could be] initiated against PM Nawaz Sharif?

Published in Dawn, April 20th, 2017