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ISLAMABAD/FAISALABAD: Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) supreme leader Nawaz Sharif has stated that a doctrine of necessity looking to extend the tenure of the caretaker set-up on one pretext or another would not be acceptable.

He also announced that political parties in the country would firmly oppose any move to use the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) to intimidate and pressure political leaders, the way former military dictator retired General Pervez Musharraf had done in the past.

The former prime minister was speaking to journalists ahead of Wednesday’s hearing at the accountability court on a reference pertaining to the Avenfield Apartments.

When reminded that there were rumours that the upcoming general elections might be delayed because of objections over delimitation of constituencies, Mr Sharif said the election must not be postponed over objections against delimitations of constituencies. He cautioned against allowing for a precedent of this sort.

Ex-PM wishes accountability court proceedings could be broadcast live

He claimed that there was a possibility that certain quarters would use NAB to pressure political leaders to switch loyalty. Over the last two or three months, several lawmakers had switched their loyalties, he said, adding that the prime minister should take note of horse-trading.

He alleged Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) co-chairperson Asif Ali Zardari had “bought” a Senate seat from Karachi. It was unfortunate that politicians of the likes of Imran Khan and Mr Zardari were involved in this nefarious game, he said.

Regarding an overhaul of NAB, Mr Sharif said a serious attempt had been made during his tenure to establish an accountability commission for across-the-board accountability. However, he admitted, it had not been a priority for his government and that had turned out to be unfortunate for them. He added that laws introduced by dictators should be abolished.

He appeared surprised when told that several places in the country continued to suffer from loadshedding. He wondered why, after his government had enhanced the power production capacity to several thousands of megawatts, loadshedding continued to plague people. “I will check it and discuss with the relevant authorities,” he said.

Responding to a question about a complaint filed against Chief Justice of Pakistan Mian Saqib Nisar, Mr Sharif said he had also read the news and found it to be a very serious matter.

He said the chief justice believed that he could, single-handedly, run the executive and the legislature, whereas it was a bitter truth that millions of people were awaiting disposal of their cases that had been pending in courts for several decades.

Later at a gathering in Faisalabad, Mr Sharif said he wished that the proceedings of cases against could be broadcast live so that the people could see what was happening.

He said he would lead the fight against injustice and oppression and would not budge from his stance.

Addressing the gathering at the football ground in Samundri, organised in connection with the fifth death anniversary of Sharif Gujjar — father of MNA Shahbaz Gujjar — he said, “We want to become a respected nation...we will destroy anyone who disrespects the vote.”

Mr Sharif said the cases filed against him were baseless. “Have you ever heard of a prime minister being disqualified for holding an Iqama (work permit)?” he asked the crowd.

The PML-N supreme leader said that he wanted to serve the masses, end poverty and ensure that they had all the necessities of life. “I will lead from the front and will not turn my back on the stance I have taken against injustice and oppression... Pakistan belongs to the 220 million people living in it, not some select group,” he said.

Several PML-N leaders including Maryam Nawaz, Hamza Shahbaz, State Minister for Interior Tallal Chaudhary and Punjab Law Minister Rana Sanaullah were present on the occasion.

Published in Dawn, April 5th, 2018