LAHORE: As the opposition Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf is expecting a decision by the Supreme Court in the Panama Papers case next week, the ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz hawks have stopped the chorus of blaming elements in the military establishment and judiciary for hatching conspiracies to oust Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.
The PML-N leaders have now completely shifted their focus from the ‘establishment and judiciary’ to the Joint Investigation Team that probed the money laundering allegations against the Sharif family and submitted its report to the apex court.
“Our message of conspiracy has already been conveyed to the people and our workers. Now we are only focusing on further discrediting the JIT and challenging its report in the court,” a senior PML-N leader from Punjab told Dawn on Thursday.
The PML-N leader gave two reasons for changing the focus — the Supreme Court’s notice of speeches by Railways Minister Khawaja Saad Rafique, MNA Talal Chaudhry and PM’s special assistant Asif Kirmani, which had the content indicating the involvement of the establishment and judiciary in conspiracies to send Nawaz Sharif packing, and the prime minister’s directives in this regard.
‘Sharifs will face case in SC and accept its verdict’
Interestingly, the PML-N hawks have also changed their earlier narrative and now alleged that ‘directors to get Nawaz’ are sitting abroad and the PTI chairman is working for them here.
Attempts to get Saad Rafique’s reply to a query whether the ‘foreign directors’ he was talking about possessed the Pakistani passport were not successful.
During the 2014 PTI sit-in in Islamabad, the PML-N had accused a former ISI chief of orchestrating the protest to oust Nawaz Sharif.
“Since the JIT has submitted its report to the SC, there is no point in showing public strength or reiterating our old stance. There has been a consensus in the party, including [Punjab] Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif, that PM Sharif will not bow to any pressure to resign no matter how much pressure the opposition manages to exert. The Sharifs will face the case in the apex court and accept its verdict,” the PML-N leader said.
The Punjab government believes that there has been “no evidence” of the military establishment or judiciary involved in any kind of conspiracy in the Panama Papers case.
“There is no evidence of conspiracy against the Sharif family by any institutions, including the army, in the Panama Papers case. If someone has he must come forward. The JIT is, however, open to scrutiny,” Punjab government spokesman Malik Ahmad Khan told Dawn.
When it was alleged that Imran Khan was performing on the ‘script’ written by the directors abroad, he said, it was because Mr Khan was playing outside the boundary of the democratic system. “Political stability is the need of the hour for the progress of the country and when Imran and company try to hamper this progress through sit-ins one thinks about the script writers sitting outside the country who do not want Pakistan to move forward,” Malik Ahmad said.
PTI spokesman Fawad Chaudhry rubbished the federal minister’s story of the script writer(s), saying the person the PML-N hawks were referring to was living in Pakistan and working in a construction group. “The PML-N should better find conspirators in Dubai, Qatar and Calbiri font Microsoft. The Sharif family is still living in the 1980s. Since the Sharifs remained part of every conspiracy against the political system, they think the same is happening to them and the establishment is behind it,” he told Dawn.
Fawad Chaudhry said in today’s Pakistan it was not possible for anyone to conspire against the democratic system in the presence of vibrant media, strong civil society and independent judiciary.
He said the PTI expected a decision in the Panama Papers case next week as the apex court would hear the case regarding declaration of the prime minister’s qualification in the light of the JIT’s findings.
“The JIT’s findings are criminal investigation and the Sharif family cannot challenge them in the apex court. The SC may refer the case against the premier and his children to the NAB court where they may contest it,” he added.
Published in Dawn, July 14th, 2017