Shortly after the Supreme Court announced that any lawmaker disqualified under Article 62 (1)(f) would be ineligible to hold public office for life, State Minister for Information Maryam Aurangzeb termed the verdict a "joke that has already been played on previous prime ministers".
The SC on Friday ruled that disqualification handed down under Article 62 (1)(f) of the Constitution — the same provision under which Nawaz Sharif was disqualified by a five-judge SC bench on July 28, 2017, in the Panama Papers case — is for life.
"This is the same [kind of] decision that led to the hanging of Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, to the assassination of Benazir Bhutto and [then] to the disqualification of an elected prime minister [Nawaz]," claimed Aurangzeb.
"This decision is the result of a conspiracy by 'Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves'," she added.
Aurangzeb termed those who were behind the verdict as "innocent and cowardly" people who believed that disqualification can end a politician's political career. When asked if the PML-N was heading towards confrontation, Aurangzeb insisted that Sharif and the PML-N had "always respected state institutions, including the judiciary".
Following his disqualification as the prime minister last year, Nawaz was also removed as PML-N head in February after the SC struck off a controversial amendment to the Elections Act, 2017 which had paved the way for Nawaz Sharif to resume leadership of the party.
After his disqualification as party head, the PML-N had declared Nawaz 'Quaid (leader) for life'.
'Leader of hearts'
"As long as Nawaz Sharif lives in the hearts of the people, this disqualification will hold no meaning," said Aurangzeb. "Pakistan's civil society, public and media is now awake and everyone can see what is happening [in the country], and the reasons behind it. The slogan of 'minus-one' is being raised once again."
"A prime minister who ended terrorism and load-shedding from the country has been disqualified for life."
The state minister insisted that the corruption allegations against Sharif could not be proven in any court. Referring to the Panama Papers verdict, she said that even though Sharif had been accused of corruption, he was disqualified for "not receiving a salary from his son's company".
Aurangzeb also warned Sharif's opponents to "be scared" of the former premier, because his slogan, "vote ko izzat do" (respect the vote), was gaining popularity among masses.