LAHORE: Leader of the Opposition in the National Assembly and PML-N president Shehbaz Sharif on Friday walked free from Kot Lakhpat jail seven months after he was arrested in money laundering and assets beyond means case.
With the release of the party president, the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz said it would more actively play the role of the opposition in and outside parliament.
“The country direly needs Shehbaz Sharif. Today is the important day for PML-N after a full bench of the Lahore High Court granted bail to him, burying the negative propaganda based on vengeance against the opposition leader,” PML-N Punjab president Rana Sanaullah told reporters.
Opposition leader has been granted bail in money laundering, illegal assets case
Asked who would now lead the PML-N in the Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM), Shehbaz Sharif or Maryam Nawaz, he said: “Both will attend the PDM meetings and Mr Shehbaz will play the role of opposition leader effectively.”
Another PML-N leader told Dawn that since the PDM had virtually dissolved after the bickering and differences between the two mainstream parties — PML-N and Pakistan Peoples Party — over the issue of resignations from assemblies, the 10-party opposition alliance had already lost its efficacy.
“As far as who will be in the driving seat in the PML-N, Shehbaz or Maryam, after the former’s release, the policies of the party Quaid Nawaz Sharif will have to be followed,” he said, adding that since the PPP fell out of the PDM, Maryam Nawaz had been in low profile after her ‘burst out’ against the PPP last month ‘on the instructions of her father’.
The PML-N leader said when Maryam Nawaz got instructions from Nawaz Sharif, who has been living in London since November 2019 for his medical treatment, she would resume her ‘verbal attack’ in line with her father’s narrative — give respect to the ballot.
“On the other hand, Shehbaz Sharif will take on Prime Minister Imran Khan and his government on rising inflation, unemployment, etc. His son Hamza Shehbaz, who was released from jail a couple of months ago in money laundering case, neither took on the powers that be nor the PPP for what the PML-N called stabbing in the back of the opposition alliance,” he said, adding that the PML-N would be seen more active in parliament under Shehbaz Sharif’s command.
“The bickering between National Assembly Speaker Asad Qaisar and PML-N senior vice president Shahid Khaqan Abbasi may also end after Shehbaz’s attending the next parliamentary session,” the PML-N leader said.
On Friday afternoon a good number of PML-N workers gathered outside the Kot Lakhpat jail to receive their party president. They also showered rose petals on his car and chanted slogans in favour of their leadership and against the PTI government.
Upon his arrival at his Model Town residence, Maryam Nawaz and other party leaders received him. Shehbaz Sharif also held a meeting with her and other party leaders, including Marriyum Aurangzeb, Amir Muqam, Rana Sanaullah and Khwaja Ahmad Hassan. He also spoke to his elder brother Nawaz Sharif in London by telephone who congratulated him on his release from jail.
A full bench of the Lahore High Court, headed by Justice Ali Baqar Najafi, had on Thursday granted post-arrest bail to Shehbaz Sharif in the money laundering reference.
Published in Dawn, April 24th, 2021