Islamabad: Cracks in the ruling Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz (PMLN) became more visible after Supreme Court of Pakistan announced life-term bar for party’s supreme leader and three-time former Prime Minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif to enter parliament.
A five-member bench of the Supreme Court of Pakistan, headed by Chief Justice Saqib Nisar, on April 13, unanimously ruled that disqualification mentioned under Article 62 (1)(f) of the Constitution is for life.
Article 62(1) (f) that sets the precondition for a member of parliament to be “Sadiq and Ameen” (honest and righteous), is the provision under which former PM Sharif was disqualified in Panama case judgment. However, the term for the disqualification was vague in the constitution for which a five-member bench took up the matter.
Jahangir Tareen, prominent leader and key financier of Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) – the archrival party of PMLN – was also disqualified on last Dec 15 by a separate bench of the apex court under the same provision. The judgment read that the disqualification of any member of parliament or a public servant under Article 62 (1) (f) in the future will be “permanent” and the affected persons cannot contest any parliamentary election.
Almost a week earlier to judgment, eight parliamentarians from South Punjab of the PMLN announced to quit PMLN and vowed to contest next general election in “independent” capacity. A couple of other parliamentarians from the upper Punjab announced to join PTI too. More fractions are expected within PMLN in the days to come, according to political analysts.
“Party is not divided. All sincere people are standing with Nawaz Sharif and we will win majority in the next general election ns,” Pervez Rashid, close aide of elder Sharif told Truth Tracker. He said all conspiracies to divide PMLN would be foiled at the end of the day.
However, the PML-N insiders say that the party is divided in two groups, one siding with the hawkish and anti-judiciary and anti-establishment stance of former PM Sharif, his self-posed successor Maryam Nawaz; and the other led by Shahbaz Sharif who is trying to woo the support of military establishment for political survival of the party with the help of assumingly military-backed former Interior minister Ch Nisar Ali Khan, who is sidelined in the party by elder Sharif at the moment.
Elder Sharif, in his public speeches, is criticizing judiciary and indirectly hitting deep state of the country for this whole plot to oust him from the power.
“We have to make sure the mandate of the people is respected in the future … we have to ensure that no conspiracy against an elected prime minister succeeds in the future … we have to make sure nobody dares in the future to depose an elected government in a matter of seconds,” Sharift repeatedly asserted in his recent talks and speeches. He said “sanctity of vote” would be his manifesto in the upcoming general elections.
While his successor and younger Shahbaz, who has been ‘elected’ as president of the PMLN, is urging for compromises and respecting institutions. To please military establishment, recently, he praised sitting army chief as a great solider. He also declined to meet Indian high Commissioner to Pakistan, apparently, to please army. Though it is difficult to write obituary of the PMLN but it is likely to divide if younger Sharif differs from the confrontational policy of elder Sharif. If younger Sharif bags support of military establishment, elder Sharif will meet his fate and the PMLN would continue to work as B-team of military establishment like it has been doing in the previous terms. Otherwise, it would continue to face challenges.
Nusrat Javed, senior journalist and anchorperson, believed this is an old script in a new film by the mighty establishment. “They want to create a hung parliament and get rid of Nawaz Shari. Present situation is more favorable for the opposition parties – particularly, PTI,” he said, adding, “This is what happened in 1988 when PPP’s heavy mandate was stolen with the help of Nawaz Sharif and today Nawaz is facing a similar situation.” He said it would be hard for Shahbaz to keep the party intact. And electable, after this disqualification, will follow their own path and will side with the party that will be in position to form government as independent candidate, he added.