Court verdict pushes Shehbaz to ‘appear’ before Zardari – despite all reservations

By: Ashraf Mumtaz      Published: 04:24 PM, 3 Sep, 2020
Court verdict pushes Shehbaz to ‘appear’ before Zardari – despite all reservations

A two-judge bench of the Islamabad High Court on Tuesday ordered former prime minister Nawaz Sharif (living in London since November last year) to appear before the court before Sept 10, and only a day later – on Wednesday - the PML-N supremo’s younger brother Shehbaz Sharif, accompanied by some other important party leaders, ‘appeared’ before PPP supremo and former president Asif Ali Zardari at his Karachi residence. 

This was the PML-N president’s first-ever visit to the PPP boss. 

Although in the past the younger Sharif has been fuming at the alleged corrupt practices of the former president and promising that he would recover the looted money from his belly, the Wednesday meeting was for chalking out a strategy to oust the PTI government, which has tightened accountability noose around important leaders of major opposition parties. 

Until recently, the PPP leadership has been alleging that the PML-N is not a trustworthy party as because of ‘deals’  it has become B-team of the ruling PTI.

But the Islamabad High Court’s verdict brought the PML-N under so much pressure that setting aside all reservations of the past it rushed to join hands with the PPP.

(A picture published in a section of the press shows that Mr Zardari is facing serious health problem. He received the PML-N president, standing with the support of a stick).

The two sides exchanged views about the prevailing political situation, the devastation being caused by the PTI government in all walks of life and the urgent need for an all-party conference to devise a mechanism to throw out the government. 

According to knowledgeable sources the PPP is for an in-house change while the PML-N supports the call for fresh elections.

A committee of senior opposition leaders is scheduled to meet in Islamabad on Thursday (September 3) to discuss a schedule for the APC and the future course of action against the government. 

It is said that Shehbaz Sharif, the opposition leader in the National Assembly, sees no chance for him becoming prime minister even in case of an in-house change because his elder brother prefers the enthronement of his daughter Maryam.

Since as a matter of principle as opposition leader Shehbaz should replace Imran Khan in case of any change – and Nawaz Sharif doesn’t want kingship going out of his family – Shehbaz is not in favour of an in-house change. He wants fresh elections, for which there is little chance of their being held in the foreseeable future.

This means an invisible power struggle in going on in the Sharif family. Shehbaz doesn’t have the support of his brother to become the country’s chief executive and Maryam is not a member of the National Assembly.

In such a situation it will be interesting to see how the opposition parties find a way out of the present situation.   

As for the IHC’s verdict it has landed Nawaz Sharif in a difficult situation.  

He cannot afford to return to Pakistan and surrender before Sept 10 as such a step would amount to contradicting his consistent rhetoric about his (bad) health condition.

At the same time he can’t afford to violate the order as it will be unbecoming of a three-time former premier and will also have other legal consequences.

In this situation his legal advisers are examining various options available to the PML-N supremo, who has been in London since November last year.

His daughter Maryam insists that her father should not come back to Pakistan without completing medical treatment and full recovery. 

Other party leaders are discussing the strategy Mr Sharif should follow and their ramifications. 

While legal course will be worked out in the light of the lawyers’ advice, politically it will be in the former prime minister’s interest to bow to the court verdict.

He should return home at the earliest, surrender before the law and face cases against him. (He should not use his links with the royals to be able to stay abroad which he had used to facilitate his departure from the country).

Since he claims he has done nothing wrong, he has nothing to worry.  

He should uphold the law – even at the cost of his health.

If he safely reached London at a time when there were apprehensions about his survival, he will certainly be safe now when his health condition is much better. 

His return home will benefit his party politically and his submission to the court verdict will take the party’s political graph very high. Such a course will also save his brother Shehbaz- who is a guarantor – from legal complexities. 

Such a line of action will bring the relevant authorities under moral pressure to bring back home former president Pervez Musharraf, under treatment at UAE for long.

There should be uniform application of law on civilians and military people.