Should Nawaz step down or wait? Analysts weigh in after damning JIT report

'The damning indictment by the JIT has left him politically damaged.'
Published July 11, 2017

The JIT report has left the Sharif family reeling. While members of the ruling PML-N have 'rejected' the report, dubbing it a 'PTI report', opposition party members of the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf's (PTI) have come out in full force demanding PM Nawaz Sharif resign.

We asked some experts what they think PM Nawaz's course of action will be.

Limited options for Nawaz

By Zahid Hussain

The JIT report has made it untenable for the prime minister to stay in power despite his party's majority in the National Assembly and control over Punjab. His options are becoming increasingly limited.

The choices are whether steps down now and face the charges or wait for the decision of the Supreme Court.

The damning indictment by the JIT has left him politically damaged. His defiance could further aggravate the crisis and could derail the political process as we have seen the past.

He can still save his party government by getting some one else as the prime minister. That way the government would complete its term and go into the elections next year. That could also make it possible yet another transition from an elected government to another. His party is still the largest and politically powerful in Punjab and could still return to power in the next elections under a new leadership, possibly his brother. But politics of confrontation could destroy the party and doom its prospects in the next elections.

Zahid Hussain is an author and journalist. He tweets @hidhussain.

Nawaz may go down fighting

By Zarrar Khuhro

Of late, we have seen him be confrontational, so I think he will want to go down fighting and become "politically martyred" to set himself up for the next election.

His options are fairly clear, he can either battle it out or step aside, but I do not see him doing the latter, that is not his style.

Of course the simpler option will be for him to step aside in favour of another party member, much like Yousuf Raza Gilani did, but I don't see him doing that.

The writer is a journalist. He tweets @ZarrarKhuhro

Sharif will fight till the end

By Abbas Nasir

I think Sharif is hanging by a thread. His options will be dictated by the SC final ruling. If the SC disqualifies him he will need to quickly find a successor from within the party and take his case to the public.

In case, the SC decides to send a reference to say NAB he won’t go and will try and prolong the fight up to and possibly beyond the next election. All who know him say he is stubborn and will fight as flight won’t be an option.

However, his Achilles heel could be his daughter. If, like the JIT is saying she submitted false and forged documents in SC and will face criminal charges then perhaps the leverage of those seeking his ouster will increase manifold. Some lawyers are also citing legal/ procedural impediments to filing of a reference and say SC cannot do it.

Given all this I’d like to withhold commenting definitively till the SC has heard all parties on the JIT report and given its ruling.

The writer is a former editor of Dawn. He tweets @abbasnasir59

The ball is in SC's court

By Asad Rahim Khan

Outcomes are premised on what the Supreme Court should decide. These can take three forms:

First, that the JIT has not gathered enough evidence via its report to hold the PM responsible of wrongdoing, and that the petition is dismissed.

Second, that the JIT has indeed gathered enough evidence pertaining to assets beyond means, and the Court orders that a reference be filed to commence full trial of the Prime Minister and related respondents.

Third, that the Court consider the litany of fabrications and forgeries the JIT alleges in its report, and after offering both sides the right to be heard, disqualifies the Prime Minister under Article 62 for neither being honest nor sagacious.

In any event, what should be done after the submission of a report as damning as this one is to be cognisant as Prime Minister that the post precedes the person - something the PM alluded to himself when he vowed resignation if a commission were to find against him in April. Rather than combat the legal fallout at each and every agonising step, it would be best to give in gracefully.

Finally, what shouldn't be lost in the noise is that serving members of state institutions put together a mammoth report to answer the Court's queries - something the vast majority of our commissions have utterly failed at in the past. It speaks well of the independence of those institutions that - provided the right safeguards and resources - its members can deliver in the most difficult circumstances. Those protections must remain in place.

The writer is a barrister. He tweets @AsadRahim

Step down and announce snap polls

By Owais Tohid

House of Sharifs is in serious trouble now. Under political and judicial siege, Nawaz Sharif, despite 2/3 majority, is now standing on a cliff with no other option but to jump off.

Overconfident Sharif missed many opportunities to save himself. He didn't strengthen the parliament which saved him from 2014 Imran Khan led Dharna, ignored political forces.

After SC vote of two senior most judges declared him disqualified, he could have announced snap polls and probably won with majority. His cronies welcomed JIT too soon and rejected its recommendations.

Now JIT has placed the corruption noose around Sharif. Disqualification seems imminent and with it Sharif's political dynasty on the verge of serious crisis. Minus Sharif, the party might face leadership crisis more so as future heir Maryam is also faced with perjury charges.

Sharif has limited options. Sharif needs to step down, announce snap polls and also intra party elections to save the party from split within.

After JIT disclosures, Sharifs are not in a position to opt for aggressive politics or use victim card versus judiciary and army. But the fact remains that there are two establishments in Pakistan; one is military establishment and another is Sharifs civilian establishment in Punjab where they have ruled for more than three decades.

Thus, if Sharifs play their cards wisely in the days to come it won't be easy to bury down Sharifs legacy in country's politics.

Owais Tohid is a journalist and writer. He tweets @OwaisTohid and can be reached at