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ISLAMABAD: The Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz rejected on Thursday the demand of three mainstream political parties for the resignation of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, saying there was no reason for it after the apex court’s judgement.

Speaking at a press conference, Railways Minister Khawaja Saad Rafiq, flanked by Minister of State for Information Marriyum Aurangzeb and MNA Danyal Aziz, said the Supreme Court’s verdict had strengthened democracy in the country. Another conspiracy to derail democracy had failed, he added.

Mr Rafiq said it was not so easy for the judges as they had not been given a conducive environment and persistent efforts had been made to influence them. He said the remarks of the judges were presented after distorting them but regretted that they were not stopped.

He advised the opposition to wait and prepare for the next general elections and claimed that the PML-N would emerge victorious in the 2018 polls as well and form governments at the Centre as well as in the four provinces with a two-thirds majority.

He asked the Supreme Court to take up Hanif Abbasi’s petition seeking Imran Khan’s disqualification for concealing assets. He said another application for an early hearing would be filed soon.

Mr Rafiq said the Panama Papers had no legal value. He said personalities from 40 countries had been named in the papers, but nowhere a judicial commission had been formed. He said Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif had decided not to seek any immunity or to question maintainability or seek shelter behind any technicalities. He even surrendered his fundamental right and did not stress that his sons were non-resident Pakistanis, the PML-N leader said.

Terming the decision the government’s victory, he said all the seven prayers made by Imran Khan had been turned down by the court. He pointed out that Mr Khan had sought the prime minister’s disqualification, placement of the names of his family members on the ECL, directions for NAB to expeditiously work on high-profile cases, orders for return of ‘laundered money’, re-examination of Sharif family’s assets and tax returns by the FBR. “This is the outcome of today’s judgement,” he remarked.

Mr Rafiq said the order for constitution of a joint investigation team (JIT) was in line with the viewpoint of the PML-N which had written to the Supreme Court for establishing a court of inquiry. He said it would not be an insult for the prime minister to appear before the JIT.

Criticising former president Asif Ali Zardari, he accused the PPP of being responsible for the break-up of Pakistan. He said Mr Zardari’s remarks about the Supreme Court judgement were a clear contempt of court. “The nation will not allow you to ridicule Superior Court judges,” he remarked.

Speaking on the occasion Marriyum Aurangzeb also rejected the demand for the prime minister’s resignation and said that the mandate was a trust of the people. She said the prime minister would fulfil all the promises made to the people for the country’s progress, development and peace prior to the 2018 general elections.

Published in Dawn, April 21st, 2017