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PTI to seek Shahbaz’s disqualification

LAHORE: Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf leaders Babar Awan, Mian Mahmoodur Rasheed, Chaudhry Sarwar and Raja Riaz address a press conference on Saturday.—Online
LAHORE: Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf leaders Babar Awan, Mian Mahmoodur Rasheed, Chaudhry Sarwar and Raja Riaz address a press conference on Saturday.—Online

LAHORE/ISLAMABAD: Opposition parties continued their efforts against the Sharif family on Saturday, with the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) announcing its decision to file a writ petition seeking the disqualification of Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif.

The Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), meanwhile, called on Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to reveal the names of those conspiring against his government and democracy, and chided him for playing the victim even after his family’s unexplainable holdings had been exposed.

Addressing a press conference at PTI chairman’s secretariat in Lahore, PTI counsel Babar Awan said he would file the petition on Monday.

He said that Shahbaz Sharif was one of three persons who had put up money in the Hudaibiya Paper Mills case and a London court’s March 1999 decision in this regard was publicly available.

PPP calls on Sharif to ‘name conspirators’; says PM should stop playing the victim after being exposed

In the JIT report as well, he said, the younger Sharif had been held accountable on various counts and these objections provided a basis for a disqualification petition. In the first volume of the JIT report, investigators had exp­la­i­ned all the proofs against the Punjab CM.

Acknowledging the judiciary’s impartiality and the need to uphold the law and Constitution, Mr Awan hoped that the court would disqualify the chief minister. Overall, he said, the JIT report had exposed 35 people, including the whole Sharif family.

He said a case had been registered against Zafar Hijazi, but neither police nor other law enforcement agencies had arrested him. He demanded that not only the chairman, but all those who asked him to tamper with the records of the Sec­u­­rities and Exchange Com­mission of Pakistan should be booked and arrested.

Mr Awan alleged that two most corrupt individuals were heading the State Bank and the finance ministry and accused the Sharif family’s agents of robbing the national kitty in the LNG case.

He said the Sharif family had not contradicted reports that Indian nationals were working in the Sharif family’s sugar mills.

Opposition Leader in the Punjab Assembly Mian Mahmoodur Rasheed said Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif was weakened now and any confrontation with state institutions would be dangerous for the country.

He said Nawaz Sharif should resign and face the cases against him, adding that PTI would not let the Sharifs derail democracy.

PPP outburst

In a similar vein, former PPP information minister Qamar Zaman Kaira railed against PM Sharif for not communicating with the opposition. “We have asked them several times to tell us who is carrying out conspiracies against [the prime minister]; tell us if there is a conspiracy against democracy… we will save democracy… [but] the prime minister is not telling us anything,” he told a presser in Islamabad.

He maintained that the PPP did not see any threat to democracy, adding that instead of playing the victim, Nawaz Sharif should come up with solid arguments.

Wondering who could be conspiring against the government, Mr Kaira ruled out the possibility of such a scheme being masterminded by the chief justice and pointed out that the army and Inter-Services Intelligence chiefs had been appointed by PM Sharif.

If he was not ready to name those conspirators, the PPP leader said, then PM Sharif should step down. Mr Kaira also advised the prime minister to summon a meeting of all parliamentary parties to explain this conspiracy to them.

Meanwhile, PPP chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zarda­­ri in a statement issued in Islamabad, warned Prime Minister Sharif that 200 million Pakistanis were up in protest against him and demanded his immediate resignation.

“Go Nawaz Go rallies staged in Multan, Bahawal­pur and Dera Ghazi Khan by the PPP are just the beginning. The prime minister must step down before every Pakistani shows him the ‘red card’,” he said.

The PPP chief said that resignation was the “only way out” for Mr Sharif and asked him to stop weighing options of confrontation with the institutions.

He said Mr Sharif had himself promised that he would step down if any evidence came out against him, but now he was reluctant to keep his word despite the fact that a box full of evidence had been made available to the nation.

Syed Irfan Raza contributed to this report from Islamabad

Published in Dawn, July 16th, 2017