Sharif blames ‘PCO judges’ for his ouster

Published December 3, 2017
FORMER prime minister Nawaz Sharif addresses the rally on Saturday.—AFP
FORMER prime minister Nawaz Sharif addresses the rally on Saturday.—AFP

QUETTA: Former prime minister Nawaz Sharif continued his tirade against the judiciary on Saturday when he lashed out at the “PCO judges” who disqualified him and termed him dishonest.

Addressing a public meeting at the Ayub Stadium, he bitterly criticised the decision “made by five individuals” to oust a “thrice elected premier”.

“Those who had taken the oath under the PCO (Provisional Constitution Order) called me dishonest, those who had sworn in dictators,” he told the crowd at an event held to mark the 44th death anniversary of Pakhtunkhwa Milli Awami Party (PkMAP) founder Abdul Samad Khan Achakzai.

Recalling that he was disqualified for not taking a salary from his son’s company in the Panama Papers case, Mr Sharif said the country did not belong to “any institution, but the people”, adding that they were the ones who could decide its destiny. “The people will take to the streets if anything happens to democracy and the Constitution,” the former prime minister warned.

Achakzai assures PML-N chief of his support for ‘democratic ideals’

The term ‘PCO judges’ refers to those members of the judiciary who opted to stay on after then-military ruler Pervez Musharraf suspended the Constitution, once in 1999 and then again in 2007. Although several judges opted to resign, some took fresh oath of office under the new legal framework.

Both Mr Sharif and the late Abdul Samad’s son, Mehmood Khan Achakzai, vowed to jointly struggle to uphold the Constitution, rule of law and restore the sanctity of the vote.

The two paid tribute to the PkMAP founder, saying that he had never compromised on the people’s rights or freedom of expression, and paid the price for his determination when he was imprisoned for 24 years.

At the outset of his speech, Mr Sharif had the bulletproof glass screen removed from in front of the dais, saying that he did not want there to be anything between him and the people. “My safety is in Allah’s hands,” he said, adding that he didn’t need any protective screens.

The former prime minister said his bond with Mehmood Khan Achakzai was an ideological one, as he had always fought against undemocratic forces and dictators, adding that he would never abandon the PkMAP leader.

In turn, Mr Achakzai told the audience: “I do not stand with Nawaz Sharif, but rather with his stance that is pro-democracy, pro-civilian supremacy and in favour of ensuring the sanctity of the ballot. As long as he adheres to these principles, I will remain with him, no matter the cost”.

Recalling the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) leader’s visit to Balochistan in the 1990s, he said: “Mian sahib, I am only supporting you for this. Otherwise, you do remember that my party once welcomed you to Balochistan with black flags?”

At the time, Mr Sharif was part of the Islami Jamhoori Ittehad (IJI), a collection of mostly right-wing parties that were considered close to the establishment.

“Pakistan is at a critical juncture; there is a clash between democratic and non-democratic forces and democrats have to win this fight for the survival and future of this country,” Mr Achakzai said.

He also lamented the backward state of the province, saying: “Balochistan has trillions in natural resources, but it is the poorest region of the country”.

“This country belongs to the people, not to any single institution... we have to remove mistrust if we are to run this country. We Pashtuns and the Baloch might have our differences, but we can shun those for the sake of a democratic and peaceful Pakistan.”

He also expressed his disappointment with progress on the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, saying that the project could not be successful if there was no peace, especially in Afghanistan.

Published in Dawn, December 3rd, 2017

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