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LAHORE: The ruling PML-N believes it is “gaining a lot politically” through the joint investigation team (JIT) probe into the alleged money laundering by the Sharif family and will eventually reap benefit in the 2018 election.

The Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf, on the other hand, predicts a “bleak future” of the PML-N as it is confident that the Supreme Court will come up with a just verdict based on the JIT probe.

“The way the JIT is conducting the probe and grilling the premier’s son and the witnesses has in fact helped the PML-N gain a lot politically. It will benefit the party in next year’s general election,” Punjab Law Minister Rana Sanaullah told Dawn here on Wednesday.

Echoing the sentiment of many others in the party, he said: “We are handling the situation politically well and getting its dividends. They (JIT and opposition) have their strategy and we have our own approach that is paying off,” he said.

Denying Pakistan Awami Tehreek chairman Dr Tahirul Qadri’s assertion that the JIT is working as an “election cell” of the PML-N, Sanaullah said: “There is absolutely no truth in it. The way the JIT is conducting the probe leaves no doubt that it is not facilitating the Sharif family but humiliating it. There is a question mark over the identity of the man who leaked the photo of Husain Nawaz, son of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. This has been done only to humiliate the Sharif family but, thankfully, the PML-N is getting sympathy.”

“Since the JIT has become controversial after discrediting every other institution of the country, its report will be nothing but a piece of paper having no legal value,” the minister said and warned that in case any adverse decision came against the premier based on the JIT findings, the PML-N would emerge stronger in the coming elections.

Asked about any strategy in connection with Nawaz Sharif’s appearance before the JIT today (Thursday) in Islamabad, the law minister said: “We do not have any special strategy since the appearance of the prime minister before the JIT will only raise his stature and benefit the PML-N.”

Notwithstanding the PML-N’s confidence, the PTI says their efforts to discredit the JIT will not bear fruit. “Those who are thinking that the PML-N will benefit from the JIT probe are living in a fool’s paradise,” PTI spokesman Fawad Chaudhry said.

He told Dawn that investigation against the premier was under way and it would not be easy for him to avoid accountability this time round. “The PTI is confident about elections this year and I see a bleak future of the PML-N as a number of its leaders will defect ahead of the polls. The PML-N should better read the writing on the wall,” Fawad Chaudhry said.

Published in Dawn, June 15th, 2017