LAHORE: Regarding the reservations shared by Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) leaders about the Joint Investigation Team (JIT) probing the Panama Papers case, the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), the main opposition party in parliament, does not believe there would be an “unnatural” change, or ouster of the federal government. Their stance being that the PML-N will be simply “reaping” what it has “sown”.

“There will be nothing unnatural or surprising or unconstitutional if, as a result of [the Panama Papers case], Nawaz Sharif goes or someone else from the PML-N replaces him as prime minister till the next elections,” PPP information secretary Farhatullah Babar said when asked if, like some leaders of the PML-N, the PPP, too, felt the investigation involved an “unnatural” plan to oust Mr Sharif from power.

Several PML-N leaders, including Ishaq Dar, Saad Rafique, Rana Sanaullah and Asif Kirmani have alleged that Mr Sharif was being targeted for political reasons and that the party had reservations regarding the JIT constituted to probe the Panama Papers case.

However, Mr Babar likened the situation the PML-N found itself in with the PPP’s tenure in which one of its prime ministers was sent packing on orders of the Supreme Court.

“Remember the Yousuf Raza Gilani case when he was disqualified by the Supreme Court and Raja Pervaiz Ashraf was elected the new prime minister for the rest of the term,” the PPP senator said.

Responding to another question, he said that he held Mr Sharif responsible for what was happening to him. “The PML-N, more precisely, the prime minister, is reaping what he has sown,” he said, in a reference to Mr Sharif’s demand, while in the PPP government, that Mr Gilani step down as prime minister before filing a review petition against the disqualification verdict.

Punjab PPP president Qamar Zaman Kaira criticised MNA retired Capt Safdar, Mr Sharif’s son-in-law, for declaring the JIT probe an attack on the ideology of the country. “The son-in-law did wonders by calling it an assault on the ideology of Pakistan,” Mr Kaira said.

He wondered whether the ruling party was complaining of being subjected to revenge, and corrected Mr Safdar saying: “You are facing accountability, and not being subjected to revenge.”

Recalling that PML-N’s supporters had distributed sweets when the JIT was formed, he said it appeared that the situation had taken a serious turn, considering that a level-headed person like Mr Dar had burst out against the JIT. He also criticised the PML-N for objecting when the PM’s daughter Maryam Nawaz was summoned to the JIT, and recalled that slain PPP chairperson Benazir Bhutto had been made to appear before courts repeatedly back in the 90s.

Published in Dawn, July 4th, 2017

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