NationalVolume 13 Issue # 14

Nawaz Sharif’s choices

Nawaz Sharif’s political life is passing through very testing and hard times. The apex court had already ousted him from the prime minister’s office last year in the Panama case verdict. Now, he has been removed from the presidency of the PML-N as well. A three-judge Supreme Court (SC) bench headed by Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Mian Saqib Nisar ruled that “an individual disqualified under Articles 62 and 63 of the Constitution cannot serve as head of a political party. The apex court’s verdict was in response to 17 petitions challenging the controversial Elections Act 2017, which had been passed through the parliament last year to bring back Nawaz Sharif as the PML-N’s president.
The judgement issued by the court reads:”Under Article 63-A of the Constitution, the position of a party head of a political party that has representation in, interalia, the Parliament has a central role in the performance of duties by the members of the Parliament. For rendering such a role, a party head must necessarily possess the qualifications and be free of the disqualifications contemplated in Articles 62 and 63 of the Constitution.” “The Election Act 2017 empowers a party head to perform multifarious functions that have [a] direct nexus with the process of elections to the Parliament and to matters relating to the affairs of political parties having parliamentary presence,” the judgement adds.
“As a consequence, it is declared that any person who suffers from lack of qualification under Article 62 or disqualification under Article 63 of the Constitution is debarred from holding the position of ‘party head’ by whatever name called and prohibited from exercising any of the powers provided in Article 63-A of the Constitution, as ‘party head’ or any other power in the said capacity under any law, rule, regulation, statute, instrument or document of any political party. Such bar and prohibition shall commence from the date of disqualification and continue till such time that the lack of qualification/disqualification of such person continues in terms of the provisions of Articles 62 and 63 of the Constitution,” the judgement said.
“As a result of the above declaration, all steps taken, orders passed, directions given and documents issued by Respondent No.4 [Nawaz Sharif] as party head after his disqualification on 28.07.2017 are also declared to have never been taken, passed, given or issued in the eyes of the law. The Election Commission of Pakistan is accordingly directed to remove the name of Respondent No.4 (Mian Muhammad Nawaz Sharif) as president/party head of Respondent No.3 (PML-N from all relevant record(s),” the court’s verdict read.
After this verdict, Nawaz Sharif said: “deliberations underway to disqualify me from politics for life.” “First, they paralysed the executive,” Sharif said. “Then yesterday, they snatched away the authority of Parliament [to make laws].” He added that after the Panamagate verdict stripped him of his premiership and a subsequent ruling took away his position as party head, he was now only left with his name. “Now, only I am left. My name Muhammad Nawaz Sharif remains. If you want to snatch this as well then do it,” he said.
Although this decision is a death-blow to Nawaz Sharif’s political power and prestige, he is not willing to surrender. He is becoming more and more aggressive against the judiciary because he knows he has nothing more to lose. “Politics is the art of impossible” and Nawaz Sharif wants to force the judiciary for reversing its decisions through public pressure. To achieve this purpose, he has already launched  “Adil movement” in the country. Nawaz Sharif and his daughter Maryam Nawaz are holding massive gatherings in which they are not only severely criticising the judiciary but also instigating the people to rise against the judiciary.
He is also using the names of Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto and Benazir Bhutto, who have become victims of the judiciary. Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto was hanged after the judiciary’s decision while Benazir Bhutto’s two governments were not restored by the courts. It is very interesting that Nawaz Sharif himself has used the judiciary against Benazir Bhutto and Asif Ali Zardari. The judiciary has always supported him in the past. But, this time, the judiciary has ousted him from the prime minister’s office.
To stay politically relevant and create fear in the judiciary and the army, Nawaz Sharif  has even called himself an ideological man. He has also termed Mujeeb Ur Rehman as “a patriot and pro-Pakistani leader, who was forced to turn into a traitor due to the wrong policies of the establishment”. In fact, Nawaz Sharif is threatening that if the cases against him are not reversed, he would break away Punjab with the support of masses. No doubt, Nawaz Sharif has a popular support but he will not be able to destabilise the country. The army, the PTI , the PPP, the JI and many other political and social forces will become united against such a nefarious move.  Nawaz Sharif should realise this reality and accept all the verdicts of the courts as he has no other option.
Shaheen Sehbai writes:” For Nawaz, the history of the last 25 years of leaders, presidents, and PMs ousted for corruption is not encouraging. Among a few of these disgraced men and women were Arnoldo Aleman, ex-president of Nicaragua who was sentenced to 20 years in 2002 (he looted $100m); Pavlo Lazarenko, the prime minister of Ukraine who was arrested by Swiss authorities in 2008 (he looted $200m); Zine Al-Abidine Ben Ali, the President of Tunisia (2011, looted $1bn to $2.6bn); Suharto of Indonesia (1998, embezzled $15bn to $35bn); Jacob Zuma of South Africa was just ousted by his party; Alvaroi Colom of Guatemala was arrested, disqualified and jailed; Brazil’s ex-president Lula ousted by his party for corruption; Brazilian Senate suspended and impeached President Dilma Rousseff and in the same year South Korean Park Geun-hye was impeached by the parliament; Iceland prime minister Sigmundur David Gunnlaugsson stepped down after the Panama Papers. Not one of them tried to become a revolutionary or a victim. As Zahid Hussain noted in his Dawn column, “Notwithstanding Sharif’s newfound aggressive populism, it will be hard for the party to resort to a mass movement to get the court ruling reversed.”