LAHORE: Former prime minister Nawaz Sharif has directed the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) to counter the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf government’s ‘attack’ on the freedom of the judiciary, saying that the party would go to any extent to protect the constitutional institution.

Mr Sharif met party leaders at Kot Lakhpat jail on Thursday. Maryam Nawaz, Mr Sharif’s mother Shamim Akhtar, Raja Zafarul Haq, Pervaiz Rashid, Rana Sanaullah, Azma Bokhari, Khurram Dastgir, Rana Arshad and Talal Chaudhry attended the meeting.

“Take lawyers and civil society on board against the Imran Khan-led government, which is conspiring against the judiciary,” he was quoted as saying, hinting that the PML-N was set to take to the streets over the issue — like it did in 2007.

In a recent meeting, PML-N vice president Maryam Nawaz and Pakistan Peoples Party chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari had mutually agreed to decide after Eid whether they wanted to launch a joint struggle against the government.

“A parliamentary party meeting is called for Friday (today) in Islamabad on the directive of the party’s supreme leader (Nawaz Sharif) to formulate the strategy to counter the PTI government’s attack on the judiciary. Mian sahib has given a clear-cut direction to the party regarding taking a firm stand on the freedom of the judiciary,” PML-N information secretary Marriyum Aurangzeb told Dawn after meeting Mr Sharif.

She said Mr Sharif considered the government’s action against the superior court judges a “targeted killing”.

She said Mr Sharif asked the party leaders to expose the PTI’s conspiracy to file a reference in the Supreme Judicial Council (SJC) against alleged misconduct of two superior court judges. “Strongly resist this attempt to weaken the guardians of the Constitution and be ready for any sacrifice for restoration of the prestige of the judiciary. I am ready to give any sacrifice for this. I don’t care if the PTI government moves to register more cases against me. Time has come to save the country,” Mr Sharif was said to have remarked.

Mr Sharif added that Prime Minister Khan had surrendered national sovereignty to international financial institutions. “Imran Khan is pleading to meet Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi as he (Mr Khan) is going from one country to another to beg for a few dollars,” Ms Aurangzeb quoted Mr Sharif as saying.

Earlier, a good number of PML-N workers gathered outside the jail and showered rose petals on Maryam Nawaz’s car and chanted slogans in favour of the party leadership.

“Filing references against the judges of the superior courts in the SJC is another dictatorial step of this fake government. The saga of crushing the voice of judges had begun with the removal of a judge of the Islamabad High Court and now it has scaled new heights,” Maryam wrote in a tweet. She added that the government was bent upon removing the judges one by one who followed the Constitution but did not submit to its will.

Meanwhile, the PML-N filed a resolution in the Punjab Assembly against the federal government for filing in the SJC a reference against Justice Qazi Faez Isa of the Supreme Court. MPA Onaiza Fatima submitted the resolution.

It said that the Punjab Assembly strongly condemned the government’s move against Justice Isa and another judge (Justice Karim Khan Agha of the Sindh High Court) and demanded that it stop humiliation of honourable judges and withdraw the ‘‘fake reference’’ against them.

Published in Dawn, May 31st, 2019

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