RAWALPINDI/ ISLAMABAD: Despite expectations that a verdict by the apex court in the Panama case would leave the country bitterly divided, Thursday’s judgement left camps of both the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) and Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf (PTI) ecstatic.
Supporters of both parties were seen distributing sweets amongst themselves in the capital. Political workers claimed that the verdict was a victory for their respective camps.
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However, PTI workers in Rawalpindi were disappointed by the verdict and did not stage a public rally in the city.
However, the public felt disappointed by the decision.
“The decision [by the supreme court] will make both Imran Khan and Nawaz Sharif happy. The court has not given a clear cut verdict,” bemoaned Akbar Khan, a rickshaw driver.
Many people with whom The Express Tribune spoke to, raised fingers on the verdict. “The Supreme Court cannot punish influential people. The law is different for the rich and for the poor in Pakistan,” complained Basharat Mahmood, a stamp paper vendor at the district courts.
“The decision is actually against the prime minister as he has to face the investigation. The apex court, under the law, cannot disqualify the prime minister in absence of solid evidence,” explained lawyer Khurram Shahzad.
Calm before the storm
Earlier on Thursday, Awami Muslim League Chief Sheikh Rashid Ahmed had offered breakfast for his supporters outside his Lal Haveli residence on Thursday morning before departing for the capital to hear the verdict at the Supreme Court.
Addressing the crowd, Ahmed had hoped that the decision would make the common man in street happy and predicted that the prime minister would be disqualified.
However, there was no other gathering by the PTI supporters in Rawalpindi.
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PML-N workers, on the other hand, took out small rallies in their respective areas in Rawalpindi before gathering outside the Rawalpindi Press Club at around 3pm.
Rawalpindi Mayor Sardar Naseem had called party workers to gather outside the press club to ‘celebrate’ the court’s decision. The gathering was attended by a large number of workers including former MNAs Shekeel Awan and Haji Pervaiz Khan.
Chairmen and vice chairmen of union councils associated with the PML-N also attended the gathering where they distributed sweets and raised slogans in favour PM Nawaz Sharif.
PML-N workers also staged a rally in Aabpara Market in Islamabad.
Earlier, Former PML-N MNA Hanif Abbasi had hung banners in favour of the premier and his family on Benazir Bhutto Road.
Moreover, a large banner in support of Nawaz was hung on the Faizabad Bridge by Naseem. Further, banners of different sizes expressing solidarity with the premier were put up by the PML-N at the main entry and exit points, markets and business centres in different parts of Islamabad.
Daily activities continued as normal amid heavy security deployments in the twin cities.
Large contingents of the police force with riot gear were deployed at all metro bus stations along Benazir Bhutto Road.
Additional contingents of police were also deployed outside sensitive installations.
The Islamabad Capital Administration also deployed extra contingents of police with riot gear at entry and exit points to the capital.
Security as also beefed up at the Faizabad Bridge and at some other places which link Islamabad with Rawalpindi and other adjoining areas.
Published in The Express Tribune, April 21st, 2017.
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