ISLAMABAD: The opposition on Monday asked Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to step down, otherwise they will launch a campaign for his removal.

It also requisitioned a fresh session of the Senate and the National Assembly so that it could demand withdrawal of Prime Minister Sharif’s membership in the lower house.

PTI chairman Imran Khan said his party would decide on Tuesday to give a call to the nation to take to the streets to force Nawaz Sharif to resign. “If Nawaz Sharif has even a little moral courage, he should resign immediately, otherwise we will decide on Tuesday to give a call to the people,” he said.

“This time highest number of people in history of the country will come out to the streets only on a 24-hour ultimatum to throw Nawaz Sharif out,” Mr Khan said in a TV show.

He said the PTI would kick out all corrupt politicians in the next general elections. “Next elections will be quite different from the previous ones because those who want to build a new Pakistan will contest against corrupt leaders,” he added.

The PTI chairman said his all claims and allegations against the prime minister’s family had been proven correct in the JIT report. “I salute the judiciary and members of the JIT for a historic example they have set by conducting a fair and transparent investigation against the incumbent prime minster and a ‘mafia’,” he said.

In reply to a question, Mr Khan said he was desperately waiting for the new session of the National Assembly where he will ask all MNAs and Speaker Ayaz Sadiq why no action was taken against the prime minister despite the fact that everyone knew that he was guilty. “I am eager to attend the NA proceedings where I will speak from the depth of my heart and will tell the speaker that he is not impartial,” he said.

“Instead of sending a reference against Nawaz Sharif, the speaker sent a reference against me,” the PTI chief said while demanding resignation of Speaker Ayaz Sadiq, along with Nawaz Sharif and Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif.

Earlier speaking at a press conference, Mr Khan said Nawaz Sharif should have resigned on moral grounds the day two judges of the apex court had ruled that he was no more honest and sagacious to hold public office.

He said Maryam Nawaz was the only person who claimed that her family’s name had been included in the Panama Papers by mistake. “But now the JIT report has proven Maryam Nawaz is the owner of the Mayfair flats and this showed that her father had laundered the money in her name,” he added.

He said it had been proven that Nawaz Sharif was the chairman of an offshore company in Dubai and his brother Shahbaz Sharif was the chairman of Hudaibiya Paper Mills.

PPP chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari said that two honorable judges of the five-member bench of the Supreme Court had already pronounced guilty verdict against the prime minister.

“The remaining three honorable judges did not disagree with the findings of the two honorable judges but only called for further investigations through a JIT,” he said in a statement.

“As a result of the JIT’s confirmation of a vast and inexplicable gap between known sources of income and the wealth accumulated by the Sharifs, there is no other option for Nawaz Sharif but to resign before he is formally convicted by the Supreme Court.”

The PPP chairman rejected the notion that the current situation poses any threat to the democratic system.

“Demanding the prime minister to resign as a result of serious questions of propriety of conduct having been established beyond doubt does not pose any threat to the system. If anything, it indicates that the system has the strength and resilience to demand and withstand change of guard in accordance with democratic traditions and principles,” he said.

Mr Bhutto-Zardari said the time for taking correct political decisions was short and advised Mr Sharif to resign forthwith. “Decision delayed is not a problem avoided; it is a crisis invited,” he feared.

Awami Muslim League leader Sheikh Rashid Ahmed feared that after the JIT report the prime minister will try to create such an atmosphere in the country so that he could be removed through an unconstitutional way instead of a legal course of action. “I request the chief justice of Pakistan to decide this case as soon as possible to avoid any crisis in the country,” he added.

Jamat-i-Islami Emir Sirajul Haq said in a statement that the government was trying to pressurise courts and state institutions to get a favourable decision. “I am seeing the rules behind bars,” he said.

Published in Dawn, July 11th, 2017

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