Sharif indirectly indicates civil-military tiff in coming days

Islamabad: Following the disqualification by a five-member bench of Supreme Court of the country, Pakistan’s deposed prime minister Mian Muhammad Nawaz Sharif in his public speeches accused military establishment for hatching his ouster plan through courts.

His continuous statements, indicating civil-military conflict in days to come, also show his plan to step up for a broader “dialogue” to take effective counter measures to demolish the efforts of derailing democracy in future. Former PM, in direct and indirect words, blamed country’s powerful military establishment for controlling and derailing democratic regimes and said that not even a single PM in the history of Pakistan was able to complete its term because of it.

“Eighteen prime ministers of the country failed to complete their due term while four military dictators ruled the country for consecutive years in the past,” Sharif said in his one public speech while going to his hometown after the disqualification.

“Military dictators have ruled the country for an average of eight years each, elected prime ministers have only been allowed two years on average and what does that say about our country?” he asked. He said Panama case was merely a tool and the matter was made complicated to create a political crisis for certain gains.

“The sanctity of votes needs to be protected,” he added, referring to his recently announced ‘mission’ to “restore the people’s mandate”. In his recent address to his party’s lawyers, Sharif disclosed his mission “to shut down the means through which democracies are derailed and elected leaders are sent home.” In his speeches, while criticizing the judgment through which he was thrown out from power corridors, Sharif said no judge has the right to send him home and violate the sanctity of a ballot of people of the country.

Pakistani Supreme Court ousted PM Sharif on July 28 while deciding the Panama papers case against Sharif and his children. He was accused of owning luxurious London properties through offshore companies named in the Panama list. The judgment was supported by a Joint Investigation Team(JIT), constituted by court and comprising of Military Intelligence and army run national spy agency – Inter Services Intelligence (ISI), apparently, for credibility and fearing possibility of manipulation by Sharif on civilian members of the JIT to probe into Panama case while Sharif was acting as PM. Sharif family, throughout the case that prolonged for several months, failed to prove any money trail of purchase of London properties before the court and the JIT.

Inter Services Public Relations – official response department of Pakistan Army– publicly denied such impressions and allegations of any involvement in the Panama case against Sharif and his family except “assisting the court and approving its reps in JIT on court’s direction.”

While, opposition parties, denouncing Sharif for his verbal attacks on judiciary and military say that he is unable to tolerate his ouster and still wants to hold to power.

Sharif and his children have also moved a review petition in the apex court against the judgment which is supposed to be heard in coming days. In the petition, filed individually, Sharif has asked the court to restore him and set aside the orders of references against him directed to send in accountability court for not proving money trail of London properties.

“Our leader Sharif will emerge stronger politically from the current crisis. We will come back with tough conditions to block the ways and means of running the country undemocratically,” senior leader of Sharif’s party Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz (PMLN) told Truth Tracker. “We will go to the people’s court for justice,” he said while alleging opposition parties – mainly Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf leader Imran Khan plays as “’show boy” for “certain powers”. He said this was not first time that Sharif’s regime was toppled. Without directly pointing finger at military establishment, he said a conspiracy was hatched to oust Sharif and that they will name the conspirators in days to come.

Pakistan Institute of Legislative Development and Transparency (PILDAT), Islamabad based a think tank, in its latest report on the political situation, contended, “all is not well with civil-military relations.” On the other hand Army Chief General Qamar Bajwa has also issued public statement regarding upholding of the supremacy of the constitution and rule of law,” the report highlighted. “Normally, army does not give such statements,” PILDAT head Ahmed Bilal Mehboob said, while fearing civil-military relations will get worse in the near future turning into a crisis.

“Footprints of military establishment are there in Panama case investigation through MI and ISI representatives,” country’s top rights activist and lawyer Asma Jahangir told Truth Tracker, while objecting to the inclusion of these members in JIT probing into Panama case against Sharif and family.

“If we want a democratic progressive Pakistan we have to block the ways left by former military dictatorships. And for that we have to stand up,” she said, adding, “If Pakistani’s army wants to come into politics we will not surrender our rights. We will defeat their guns with our pens and voices.” For the rule of law, country’s defense budget should also be debated and discussed in the parliament rather than being held in secrecy, she demanded saying “it is country for all.” She criticized military involvement in politics and the judiciary’s role over the years, wondering why only politicians were held accountable in Pakistan. “The panama judgment will haunt the court in later days,” she expressed.

On the other side, country’s oppositions parties have warned of mass protests if the ruling PMLN, still controlled by Sharif from home, took any step to change laws or constitution to cut the role of judiciary and army as institutions as “punishment” to them for his ouster.

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