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'I've been removed repeatedly but you keep bringing me back,' says re-elected PML-N head Nawaz

Updated October 03, 2017

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Ousted PM Nawaz Sharif addresses the crowd during PML-N's general council meeting.— DawnNews
Ousted PM Nawaz Sharif addresses the crowd during PML-N's general council meeting.— DawnNews

Ousted prime minister Nawaz Sharif was elected the president of PML-N unopposed on Tuesday, reclaiming his position as the head of his namesake party.

Addressing a gathering of charged party members at the Convention Centre in Islamabad, Nawaz Sharif said his supporters kept reelecting him to power despite his ousters from the office.

"I love you too," he said in response to raucous chants of "I love you!"

Former PM Nawaz Sharif and other senior PML-N leaders on stage.— DawnNews
Former PM Nawaz Sharif and other senior PML-N leaders on stage.— DawnNews

He said the party members knew the reasons behind his disqualification as prime minister.

"If they were not able to find anything in Panama [Papers], they should have told people the truth that we found nothing in Panama, thus we are going to take him out with an iqama."

Sharif thanked the people for repealing the law which barred disqualified politicians from holding office in a party. He said Former president General (retd) Pervez Musharraf had reinstated this law after Ayub khan first introduced it.

"I would like to thank the people for throwing this law back at their faces."

'We learned nothing from the fall of Dhaka'

Sharif asked the crowd to reflect on the incidents leading to the creation of Bangladesh and the reasons that "led to Pakistan regressing behind all independent countries around us".

Hundreds of PML-N members are attending the meeting.— DawnNews
Hundreds of PML-N members are attending the meeting.— DawnNews

"We learned nothing from the fall of Dhaka," he said, adding that Pakistan has not reflected on and fixed its problems. He said he had asked 12 questions in the lawyers convention but did not get a "single reply".

Sharif said he had been disqualified for "not receiving salary from his son", but the violation of the constitution by four dictators during the country's history was declared legal.

"Those who violated constitutional oath remained sadiq and ameen."

He said no action committed during dictatorial rule was taken notice of under Article 184 (3) of the constitution. The petitions for Sharif's disqualification were heard under Article 184(3).

"When no justification was found for their unconstitutional steps, the Doctrine of Necessity was invented," he said, adding that he wishes a doctrine of necessity was also created for respect of people's mandate and democracy.

"I am warning you today, if we do not try to change the situation, Pakistan will not forgive us."

Sharif said he has proposed a grand national dialogue to focus on restoring the people's mandate as "only those should govern who the people vote for."

"The people will decide through their vote [in general elections of 2018] who is qualified and who is unqualified," he said.

Earlier in the morning, PML-N leader Dr Tariq Fazal Chaudhry submitted Sharif's papers for party president in the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) while no one other candidate from the party contested the election.

PML-N's election commissioner Chaudhry Jaffar Iqbal later announced Sharif as the unopposed party president during the meeting of the party's general council. The crowd erupted in thunderous applause as soon as Sharif's name was announced as PML-N president, amid chants of "prime minister Nawaz Sharif!"

Hundreds of members of the party's general council, including ministers, MNAs and senators attended the meeting at the Convention Centre. The meeting was attended by all senior PML-N leaders including Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif and Finance Minister Ishaq Dar.

'Today is a historic day'

Addressing the crowd, Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi termed the occassion a "historic day".

The premier said he is proud to be among the few people who witnessed the moment Sharif took his place as the party chairman for the first time.

Abbasi presented an "open challenge to all the dictators and PPP" to compare the development work carried out by them with that of the PML-N.

"If our development [work] does not stand 100 per cent ahead of PPP's, we will give our government up."

'Nawaz kept his promise'

Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif in his address said all political parties had "stood against us" and accused the PML-N of creating the law to facilitate one man.

Shahbaz Sharif addresses the gathering.— DawnNews
Shahbaz Sharif addresses the gathering.— DawnNews

"I ask them, why did they not say anything when in 1999 one man created the MLR [martial law regulation] and that went on for so many years."

He claimed that Nawaz Sharif had kept his promise to the nation and brought electricity to the country. He said the decision to produce 3600MW of electricity was taken in 2015 and the first phase has been completed and providing cheap electricity to the people.

"I ask, is ehtasaab [accountability] for Nawaz Sharif only?"

NA abolished 'black law'

Interior Ministry Ahsan Iqbal while addressing the gathering said the National Assembly had on Monday abolished the "black law" introduced during the regime of a dictator that barred leaders from being elected to party offices.

He said before the clause was made part of the law in 2002, no law had anything to do with posts of a political party.

"The clause was added so that Nawaz Sharif could be barred from leading PML-N just like they wanted to bar Benazir Bhutto from leading PPP," he said.

He questioned why the PPP did not support the passage of the bill ending Musharraf's political ordinance when the bill was intended to reinstate the law introduced by Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto "after he had fought martial law".

Iqbal said the PML-N has faced all the trials and tribulations that have come its way.

Addressing Nawaz Sharif, he said: "You taught us that if we need to bring stability to this country then we have to go through the legal system, no matter what the situation is."

Govt bulldozes Election Bill 2017

On Monday, the PML-N took full advantage of its position as the ruling party as President Mamnoon Hussain signed the controversial Election Act 2017 into law hours after it was bulldozed through the National Assembly amid pandemonium on the opposition benches.

The law was passed to allow the party to re-elect the disqualified former prime minister as party chief, on the eve of a party convention called for the express purpose of electing Nawaz Sharif to the post.

The party also reposed its complete confidence in Sharif’s leadership when members of its Central Working Committee (CWC) also approved an amendment to the party constitution, removing the bar on disqualified members from contesting the election to any party office.

The bill was cleared by the lower house within minutes amidst ugly scenes, as opposition members gathered around the speaker’s pod­ium, chanting slogans, tearing up copies of the bill and flinging them towards the dais.

Sharif had relinquished the position of PML-N chief after his ouster from power under the July 28 verdict of the Supreme Court in the Panama Papers case.

ECP wraps up PML-N party symbol issue

In a related development, the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) on Tuesday disposed of the matter of election of PML-N's party president.

The commission had last week issued a notice to the PML-N following its failure to elect a party president after the disqualification of Nawaz Sharif and notified that the PML-N "is now not eligible" to get the party symbol.

According to PML-N's party constitution, it was supposed to elect a president within 45 days after the ouster of Sharif — the deadline passed on September 11.

When Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) retired Justice Mohammad Raza Khan took up the matter today, the lawyer of PML-N Acting Secretary General Ahsan Iqbal said that the party had announced an election for the president.

The election commissioner observed that the issue had now become ineffective and wrapped up the matter. The ECP also restored PML-N's election symbol.


Additional reporting by Muhammad Bilal in Islamabad.