ISLAMABAD: The ruling party on Thursday claimed that Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif appeared before the joint investigation team as an ‘ordinary citizen’, but the facts state the opposite.
“History has been made today. [The] prime minister has arrived without any protocol, riding his personal vehicle. He comes here like an ordinary citizen,” PM’s Special Assistant Asif Kirmani told the media upon the PM’s arrival at the Federal Judicial Academy.
The only thing missing from the regular VVIP protocol the prime minister enjoys was dozens of vehicles accompanying his usual rides. Otherwise, tight security measures were in place around the Federal Judicial Academy (FJA), with 2,600 security personal deputed to guard the area. This was in addition to the deployment of Rangers personnel to shield the inner security cordon.
The authorities concerned had blocked three link roads leading to the FJA building – the JIT’s secretariat – for all vehicular traffic, dedicating one route for the ‘ordinary citizen’ to travel between his official residence and the FJA.
As if that was not enough, one of the gates of the nearby Shifa Hospital, falling on the service road south of Sector H-8, was also closed for any kind of movement.
The PM reached the FJA well on time — around 11am — as was directed by the probe team through a summons dispatched to him on June 8.
There were three vehicles in the prime minister’s cavalcade carrying the PM himself, his personal security staff, his son Hussain Nawaz, Punjab Chief Minister Shehbaz Sharif and his son Hamza Shehbaz. Premier’s principal secretary Fawad Hasan Fawad also accompanied him.
The prime minister came out of his white land cruiser parked right at the front door of the FJA, waving towards the cameramen anxiously waiting at the outer wall of the building to capture the moment.
The PM had a little chat with the staff of the academy that received him while his personal staff took some files out of his vehicle which the prime minister later submitted to the probe team. As the prime minister went inside the building, all those who accompanied him left the venue, except Asif Kirmani.
Some 250 metres away from the building, on the adjoining Sahibzada Abdul Qayyum Road, nearly 300 PML-N supporters carrying placards and banners were busy chanting slogans in favour of their leader, despite clear-cut instructions from the prime minister to not come to the venue,
The activists included members of the PML-N-affiliated lawyers fraternity, representatives of the PML-N women wing, office-bearers of different union councils and others. However, the police did not allow them to get close to the FJA building, over which the activists also protested.
With the passage of time, the crowd swelled and soon they were joined by PML-N MNAs, senators and federal cabinet members.
Finance Minister Ishaq Dar and Defence Minister Khawaja Asif also joined the gathering and tried to reach the FJA building, but even they were stopped at the site where other activists were present.
Ministers and MPs present at the venue included Abid Sher Ali, Tariq Fazl Chaudhry, Tahira Orangzeb, Seema Jilani, Farhana Qamar, Asia Naz Tanoli, Saleem Zia, Kalsoom Perveen, Barjees Tahir, Chaudhry Tanveer and Mohsin Shahnawaz Ranjha.
As his testimony, lasting almost three hours, concluded, the prime minister – along with his son Hussain Nawaz and nephew Hamza Shshbaz – walked out of the FJA building to talk to the media.