NationalVolume 13 Issue # 01

Pakistan – after Nawaz Sharif’s ouster

Pakistan is passing through very interesting and testing times. In spite of many gigantic problems, Pakistan is marching ahead and making progress in so many areas. The democratic system is proceeding smoothly and uninterruptedly. The media – electronic, print and social – is playing its constructive role by informing, educating, guiding and entertaining the people. A process of accountability has been started in the country. An independent judiciary is also working and asserting its power. But, there are also some very worrying signs which are looming over Pakistan.

Nawaz Sharif resigned as prime minister of Pakistan after the fivemember bench of the Supreme Court of Pakistan unanimously announced: “It is hereby declared that having failed to disclose his un-withdrawn receivables constituting assets from Capital FZE Jebel Ali, UAE, in his nomination papers filed for the general elections held in 2013 in terms of Section 12(2)(f) of the Representation of the People Act, 1976 (ROPA), and having furnished a false declaration under solemn affirmation respondent No 1 Mian Muhammad Nawaz Sharif is not honest in terms of Section 99(f) of ROPA and Article 62(1)(f) of the Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, 1973 and therefore he is disqualified to be a Member of the Majlis-e-Shoora (Parliament).”

“The National Accountability Bureau (NAB) shall within six weeks from the date of this judgment prepare and file before the Accountability Court, Rawalpindi/Islamabad, the following references: a) Reference against Nawaz Sharif, Maryam Nawaz, Hussain Nawaz, Hassan Nawaz and Capt. (r) Safdar relating to the Avenfield properties, b) Reference against Nawaz Sharif, Hussain Nawaz and Hassan Nawaz regarding Azizia Steel Company and Hill Metal Establishment, c) Reference against respondents Ishaq Dar for possessing assets and funds beyond his known sources of income.” the order said, adding the NAB will also include in the proceedings all other persons including Sheikh Saeed, Musa Ghani, Kashif Masood Qazi, Javaid Kiyani and Saeed Ahmed, who have any direct or indirect nexus or connection with the actions of the respondents leading to acquisition of assets and funds beyond their known sources of income”.

The Supreme Court has nominated Justice Ijazul Ahsan to “supervise and monitor implementation of Panamagate judgment and oversee the proceedings conducted by NAB and accountability court”. A notification dated August 1, said that since Justice Ijaz is currently abroad, therefore, till his return, “Justice Ejaz Afzal Khan shall act as the monitoring judge”.

After the disqualification of Nawaz Sharif, the former prime minister, from holding public office for life on 28 July, 2017, by the Supreme Court, the PML-N leader Shahid Khaqan Abbasi has been elected as the interim prime minister of Pakistan for 45 days on 2 August. Then, on 4 August, 47 members of the new federal cabinet of Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi took oath at a ceremony organised at the Presidency in Islamabad. The PM’s cabinet consists of 28 federal ministers and 19 state ministers, mostly old faces but with some reshuffled portfolios.

It is very strange but interesting that Ishaq Dar has been granted the portfolio of finance minister, in spite of a criminal investigation ordered against him by the apex court. Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi has also a tainted image of being involved in corruption. He is facing a Rs220 billion corruption inquiry being carried out by the National Accountability Bureau (NAB). The Foreign Minister Khawaja Asif, Interior Minister Ahsan Iqbal and Ishaq Dar have also Iqamaas. The PML-N’s information secretary Mushahidullah Khan, who had been expelled by Nawaz Sharif for issuing a controversial statement accusing the ISI of sponsoring the Pakistan Tehreek-Insaf’s sit-in in 2014, has also returned to the cabinet as minister of climate change. Daniyal Aziz, Talal Chaudhry, Marriyum Aurangzeb, Zahid Hamid and Dr Tariq Fazal Chaudhry are also a part of the cabinet. Chaudhry Nisar, former interior minister, is not a part of the cabinet this time. It shows there is a rift in the PML-N.

The PM Shahid Khaqan Abasi announced the cabinet after meeting, consulting and taking orders from Nawaz Sharif in Murree, who is still the real boss of the PML-N. This consultation is a violation of the Supreme Court Judgement and the constitution, since Nawaz Sharif has been disqualified for life on grounds of violating public trust. He is also not eligible to head the party. It is a case of contempt of court. But, “godfather” Nawaz Sharif is not afraid of the apex court and following his own inclinations. He is also afforded official protocol and using other government resources.

The larger size of cabinet clearly indicates that “godfather” Nawaz Sharif wants to keep the PML-N intact by giving ministries to all the important members of the party. He also wants to win the 2018 elections. The PM has formed a massive cabinet and included five politicians, belonging to powerful feudal families, from south Punjab. The sole purpose of giving them ministries is “to nail down their loyalties ahead of the 2018 contest.”

After the apex court’s verdict, Nawaz Sharif is trying to profess his innocence among the people by saying no charges of corruption have been proved against him. “How could I declare a salary I never received from my son’s company?” he asked journalists in Islamabad on 5 August. The former premier also insisted that no evidence of corruption could be found against him despite the investigation of his father’s company records. Warning that there will be a state of anarchy in the country if it “did not walk on the right path”, Sharif said Pakistan is right now on its way to prosperity and will continue to grow. He also asked whether the courts could ever hold a dictator accountable for his actions, noting that no one has so far been held responsible for the “murder of Nawab Akbar Bugti”.

On 6 August, Sharif announced that “the people of Pakistan are not accepting the Panama case verdict”. His party leaders like Khawaja Asif, Saad Rafique, Rana Sana Ullah, Ahsan Iqbal, Talal Chaudhary and Daniyal Aziz are also speaking against the apex court’s decision and the JIT’s six members’ findings. They are terming the decision as a conspiracy against the democratic government. They are not willing to acknowledge the corruption of the Sharif family. Everyone knows that Nawaz Sharif and his family could not justify their wealth and provide the missing money trails before the SC and the JIT. Without any remorse, they have concealed their assets, forged documents, and lied not only to the public and the parliament but also to the court. Like a “godfather running a Sicilian Mafia” family, party and government in Pakistan, Nawaz Sharif has made all the institutions like NAB, the FIA, the FBR, the SECP, etc., weak and submissive. The NAB Chairman Qamar- Uz- Zaman, without any shame and fear, tried to protect Nawaz Sharif and his family’s corruption before the apex court. The SECP Chairman Zafar Hijazi tampered with the official documents, for which he has been sacked and sent to jail on remand. The Sharif’s presented Qatari letter to deceive the court. Maryam Nawaz was caught with a statement typed in Calibri font, which was a palpable forgery.

In spite of all these solid and glaring facts, Nawaz Shaif and his supporters are propagating their innocence by using false and distorted slogans of upholding civilian supremacy , respecting the electoral mandate and conspiracy against democracy. Nawaz Sharif’s traveling to Lahore in a cavalcade on the GT Road was also an attempt to undermine the Supreme Court of Pakistan’ s authority and put pressure on the army, agencies and National Accountability Bureau which is looking into cases against the Sharif family. To save themselves from criminal proceedings and punishment, Nawaz Sharif, his family and the PML-N have adopted a course of collision with the state institutions. They want to become political “Shaheeds” after derailing the democratic system in Pakistan. In fact, by not accepting the apex court’s verdict, it is Nawaz Sharif and his family who are hatching a conspiracy against democracy in Pakistan. Asad Rahim Khan, a lawyer, writes: “The Panama

Papers were leaked on April 3,

  1. Between then and

The Supreme Court has nominated Justice Ijazul Ahsan to “supervise and monitor implementation of Panamagate judgment and oversee the proceedings conducted by NAB and accountability court”. A notification dated August 1, said that since Justice Ijaz is currently abroad, therefore, till his return, “Justice Ejaz Afzal Khan shall act as the monitoring judge”.

now, Nawaz Sharif could have disclosed all his assets; he did not. He could have asked a former judge to form a commission, long as he empowered it; he did not. He could have sat down with the PPP and resolved this in parliament; he did not. He could have emancipated state institutions to the point they would not fear investigating him; he did not. He could have resigned in the wake of the JIT report; he did not. He could have built in parameters for Articles 62 and 63; he did not. To call this a conspiracy, then, may well be accurate: Mian Nawaz Sharif’s against himself… Justice Khosa’s decision in the Panama case held, with great courage, that a prime minister “immune from touchability or accountability […] would be nothing short of a disaster”.

His words are as applicable to those in u n i form be it the gents that il-

legally got Nawaz Sharif elected prime minister in 1990, or the gents that unlawfully removed him in 1999. Let justice be done”.

Even The Washington Post has praised the SC’s verdict in these words: “Pakistan undoubtedly faces a period of political uncertainty. The next elections are scheduled for 2018. ..Still, Pakistan has so often been a miasma of uncertainty, impunity, coercion and violence that it is worth applauding the Supreme

Court’s determination to see this case to a difficult but necessary conclusion. It’s a glimmer of hope for accounta-bility and rule of law in a nation that could use much more of it”.

But, unfortunately, Nawaz Sharif is not willing to read these lines and see the rule of law prevailing in the country. He just wants to bring down the democratic system by refusing to accept the SC verdict and criticising the army and establishment. The

PML-N and its leadership fully know that in political instability, anarchy and the army’s intervention rests Nawaz Sharif and his family’s survival in Pakistan. So, they are pursuing this goal very dangerously and unpatriotically. Every democratic and loyal Pakistani must pray that the interests and security of the country prevail over any attempts to destabilize it.