LAHORE: Claiming that her party’s lawmakers are being pressurised to change loyalties, PML-N vice-president Maryam Nawaz Sharif has called upon all opposition parliamentarians to stand up to the pressure [of the establishment] for the sake of their own honour when the Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) goes for en masse resignations in its Dec 8 summit.

Accusing Prime Minister Imran Khan of being too obedient to the establishment, she also exhorted the judiciary and the media to reject the “pressures” that came in their way while performing their duties.

“Before the 2018 polls, a PML-N leader popular in his constituency had been slapped by the ‘agriculture department’ officials for refusing to decline the party ticket. Attempts are being made these days too for forcing [opposition] parliamentarians to change their loyalties… up to 3,000 FIRs are being instituted against them after each public meeting of the opposition,” she said in her speech at a social media convention of her party at Johar Town here on Sunday.

Referring to the slapping incident, she urged the members of all elected houses, including the Senate, to stand up to all kinds of pressures for the sake of their own dignity and tender their resignations when the 11-party opposition alliance would decide so in its all-important meeting on Tuesday (tomorrow).

Also exhorts judiciary to have grit against ‘blackmail’

“For how long you will tolerate this oppression. You are elected representatives of the people. Respect yourself. Let them pick you up from your homes and institute cases against you.”

She warned that the houses of those who would betray their parties would be “besieged by the people”.

Her statement may be seen in the context of the March 2018 Senate polls when the candidate of the PML-N, that was ruling party, despite having a clear majority in the upper house, had lost to little-known Senator Sadiq Sanjrani from Balochistan for the office of chairman of the upper house.

Also, it is clear that the PML-N, like JUI-F of Maulana Fazlur Rehman, has made up its mind to pull out of all the elected houses, though the PPP, one the main constituents of the PDM, remains uncommitted so far in this regard.

Maryam also called upon the judges to disallow ‘behind-the-curtain’ forces to “blackmail” them for whatever information [about their weaknesses] these forces have.

She urged them to be bold like former Peshawar High Court chief justice late Seth Waqar, who had handed down death penalty to ex-army ruler Gen Musharraf in a treason case.

She said the late judge would always be remembered for his verdict in the [judicial and constitutional] history, unlike two former chief justices of Pakistan, with whom people didn’t even like to shake hands. She was referring to a recent chance meeting between Khwaja Saad Rafiq and ex-CJP Saqib Nisar where the PML-N MNA did not oblige when the former top judge stretched his out for a handshake.

She hoped that two other bold judges, senior Supreme Court judge Justice Qazi Faez Isa and ex-Islamabad High Court Justice Shaukat Siddiqui, would get justice in their petitions to be taken up by the apex court soon.

She said the powers that be had also attempted to force Nawaz Sharif to resign as prime minister during the PTI-PAT joint sit-in at Islamabad back in 2014 like ex-CJP Asif Saeed Khosa, who had “suggested” to Justice Faez Isa, to quit by informally telling him about a presidential reference that was ready against the former.

The PML-N leader also asked the media [owners] to show courage, saying for how long they would continue to “suffer beatings whith folded hands”.

Calling Prime Minister Imran Khan ‘Tabedar (obedient) Khan’, she alleged that his ‘ineptness’ and ‘corruption’ were being ignored only because he was “too obedient” to the forces that matter.

She also alleged that petrol, wheat flour, sugar and recently LNG crises were deliberately created to benefit those who “finance the kitchen of Imran Khan” and fund his party at the cost of the national exchequer.

Published in Dawn, December 7th, 2020

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