Nawaz Sharif attacks judiciary over ouster, wife files nomination for by-polls
Pakistan’s ousted premier Nawaz Sharif has targeted the judiciary for disqualifying him as he made his way from Islamabad to Lahore in a rally that is being seen as the start of his campaign for the 2018 election.world Updated: Aug 12, 2017 00:25 IST
Former premier Nawaz Sharif again attacked Pakistan’s judiciary on Friday as he made his way towards Lahore in a rally even as his wife Kulsoom filed her nominations to contest the parliament seat left vacant by his disqualification by the Supreme Court.
Sharif’s rally, which began making its way from Islamabad to Lahore on Wednesday, is being seen as the start of his PML-N party’s campaign for the 2018 general election.
After spending the night at a hotel on the banks of the Jhelum river, Sharif made his way into central Punjab, the political heartland of the PML-N, where he again received a mixed reception at different places.
A defiant Sharif had criticised the judiciary on Thursday for forcing him to quit as prime minister, saying it was an “insult” to the people of Pakistan as their elected leader was unceremoniously ousted by the Supreme Court.
“It is an insult to the 200 million people of Pakistan. You voted for me, but the five honourable judges sent me home with a single stroke of a pen,” Sharif told his supporters in Jhelum on the second day of his journey along the historic Grand Trunk Road.
On Friday, he told his audience: “Every prime minister in this country was given a tenure of one-and-a-half years, on average, to govern. Some were executed, some jailed, some handcuffed and some exiled.
“On the other hand, dictators were allowed to rule for decades and the judges even allowed them to rule.”
In a related development in Lahore, Sharif’s wife Begum Kulsoom Nawaz submitted her nomination papers to contest by-elections to the seat he had vacated. The papers were submitted by her son-in-law Muhammad Safdar.
A total of 35 candidates have submitted nominations for the by-elections scheduled for September 17. The last date for submission of papers is August 12.
Sharif’s wife has never contested elections though she played a key role in the PML-N’s movement for the release of her husband when he was deposed in a military coup in 1999 and jailed. Sharif had initially said his brother, Punjab chief minister Shehbaz Sharif, would contest the by-elections in order to become the premier but the plan was dropped because the PML-N believes his elevation could hurt the party in Pakistan’s most populous province.
As Sharif’s convoy made its way through Punjab, he stopped at Gujrat, where he offered Friday prayers and addressed PML-N workers at GTS Chowk.
The media reported that as the convoy approached Kharian, anti-Sharif songs could be heard playing inside the local cantonment. There was an estimated crowd of 2,000 to 3,000 waiting to welcome the motorcade in Kharian.
The convoy then moved to Lalamusa, from where it proceeded to Gujrat. According to the schedule issued by the PML-N, Sharif will spend the night in Gujranwala and leave on Saturday morning for Lahore. He is expected to reach the city at 4 pm on Saturday.
PML-N leader Talal Chaudhry backed the ousted premier’s statements and said Sharif is not seeking to be restored to power. Sharif has undertaken the rally to “end the insult to the people’s mandate”.
Sharif has specifically referred to the five judges on the bench of the Supreme Court that passed the verdict to disqualify him under Article 62 of the Constitution in the Panamagate case.
“I became the prime minister of Pakistan through votes, whereas five honourable judges sent me home. Only those who vote politicians into power have the right to depose them,” he thundered.