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Nawaz Sharif set to carry on mass contact campaign

Updated August 14, 2017

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Nawaz Sharif raises his hands to respond to his supporters during a rally in Muridke on Saturday. —AP/File
Nawaz Sharif raises his hands to respond to his supporters during a rally in Muridke on Saturday. —AP/File

LAHORE: Former prime minister Nawaz Sharif, camped in his Jati Umra residence to run the Pakistan Muslim League-N (PML-N) and the affairs of the federal government, is going over suggestions to hold a series of rallies in the second phase of his public contact campaign after his disqualification under a Supreme Court order.

“After getting an overwhelming response of the people during his homecoming from Islamabad, Mian Nawaz Sharif is thinking about holding another round of rallies in his mass contact campaign to ensure respect of their vote,” the ousted prime minister’s close aide, Senator Pervaiz Rashid, told Dawn on Sunday.

Mr Sharif spent Sunday with his family after his four-day journey ended at Data Darbar late on Saturday evening.

Proposal to hold rallies in Faisalabad, Multan, Abbottabad, Peshawar under consideration

“On Monday, Nawaz Sharif will hold meetings with party leaders and discuss proposals, including whether to take out another procession from Lahore to Faisalabad or Multan, or Islamabad to Abbottabad or Peshawar in the second phase of the campaign,” the former information minister said.

In reply to a question, he said: “It is not a long march. It is a campaign to meet people on roads who want respect of their vote. People are utterly disappointed to see the ouster of the prime minister they elected through the power of their vote. For them Nawaz Sharif has to come out on roads.”

Asked if Mr Sharif would announce his future course of action on Independence Day at Hazuri Bagh, Mr Rashid said: “Mian sahab will announce this in a few days.”

Addressing rallies on way from Islamabad to Lahore on the GT Road, Mr Sharif had taken a pledge from the participants for taking to the streets on his call.

“Mr Sharif is mobilising the people, especially his workers in Punjab, for a bigger show in the days to come,” another PML-N leader said.

“Nawaz is feeling wounded and is not ready to digest his disqualification. He will not rest and will stay on the roads till he manages to put pressure on those who matter to negotiate on his terms,” he said.

He admitted that Mr Sharif had not paid heed to the advice of senior party leaders to sit back and let the PML-N government complete its tenure quietly.

“Nawaz Sharif has decided to fight and there is no question of a second thought,” he added.

The opposition has interpreted Mr Sharif’s plan to ‘stay on the roads’ as a ‘fight’ with institutions.

“The PML-N has every right to hold rallies, but its leadership should not use abusive language against the judiciary and the army during its road shows,” Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) information secretary Shafqat Mahmood said. He said Mr Sharif needed to change his attitude.

“During his homecoming, Nawaz Sharif used strong language against the Supreme Court judges and the army.

“He is provoking these institutions to directly intervene. He needs to change his selfish and anti-national attitude and let his government function and complete its tenure,” Mr Mahmood said, alleging that the PML-N had extensively used state resources during Mr Sharif’s recent travel and it should refrain from doing so in future.

Supremacy of parliament

Meanwhile, Climate Change Minister Mushahidullah Khan reiterated that parliament was the supreme body.

“We believe that parliament is the supreme entity in a democratic set-up and all other institutions come after it, but one is at a loss to understand why it is always targeted,” he said while talking to reporters after condoling with the family of the late PML-N leader, Tariq Gill.

In reply to a question, he said a few black sheep and not an institution as a whole would connive in any conspiracy.

These black sheep, he added, were also used by some global powers that didn’t wish Pakistan to progress economically and politically.

“Being a state having nuclear power is also a crime on Pakistan’s part. The United States, Israel and some other world powers are against political stability and economic progress of the country and the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor projects. Thus efforts are made to hatch a conspiracy through any think-tank, non-government organisation or other channels.”

The minister said the alleged conspirators considered Mr Sharif their enemy and such elements were used for intrigues against democracy. The most popular leader had been sent packing, he added.

Replying to another question, Mr Mushahidullah said former PTI president Javed Hashmi and not the PML-N had talked of a judicial coup.

About amending the Constitution to abolish Articles 62 and 63, under which Mr Sharif was disqualified, the minister said constitutional amendments were the norm in democracy and the step was necessary for strengthening the Constitution and democracy. He said new social contracts and social experiments were also made in democracies.

Like Mr Sharif, Senate Chairman Raza Rabbani also talked of supremacy of parliament and democracy, which the former PM had promised to support, Mr Khan said.

About Pakistan Awami Tehreek leader Dr Tahirul Qadri’s plan for a sit-in, he said “these people come to spread chaos in the country”.

Published in Dawn, August 14th, 2017