LAHORE: An influential member of the Punjab cabinet has opposed the elevation of Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif to the National Assembly, believing there are sufficient political and legal grounds against this step of the ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N).
“The focus of the party will divert from its development agenda to the electoral game for the rest of the present assemblies’ term if Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif, successfully delivering in the electoral base of the party, is elevated to the office of prime minister,” Punjab Law Minister Rana Sanaullah Khan suggested to the PML-N leadership in an all-important consultative meeting in Murree on Monday.
“We should not force upon ourselves a 45-day [electoral] disturbance after one was imposed on us last Friday,” he told Dawn in a reference to the Supreme Court decision of disqualifying Nawaz Sharif as prime minister on July 28.
He claimed that the party leadership had promised to give a serious consideration to this and two legal submissions of his once Shahid Khaqan Abbasi assumed the charge as the prime minister.
A practising lawyer himself, Rana Sanaullah said he had also informed the leadership that the apex court’s verdict could be overturned as an “error of judgement”, provided a review petition against it was heard as an appeal by a larger bench, because “receivables” could not be considered assets under the Income Tax Act.
He expressed the opinion that Nawaz Sharif might re-enter electoral politics and was not disqualified for life because in an almost similar case, retired Justice Iftikhar Cheema, who had won from the National Assembly constituency NA-101 (Gujranwala) in 2013 but was later disqualified by the Supreme Court for concealing assets, had been allowed to contest the by-polls held last year.
Keeping in view these grounds, Nawaz Sharif can make his comeback with no need for elevating the chief minister from Punjab to the federal government.
According to some TV channels, the PML-N leadership is seriously considering a proposal to continue with Mr Abbasi as prime minister till the next general elections.
Published in Dawn, August 2nd, 2017