QUETTA: Deposed prime minister Nawaz Sharif sticks to his guns against the judiciary over the Panama Papers case verdict earlier this year, as he lambasted ‘PCO judges’ on Saturday, saying those who administered oath to dictators were responsible for disqualifying an elected member of parliament.
Addressing a rally of the Pakhtunkhwa Milli Awami Party (PkMAP) at the Ayub Stadium to mark the 44th death anniversary of late Samad Khan Achakzai, Sharif vowed to continue to serve the people of the entire region, using economic development as a means.
The Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) president said only the people, electing the rulers, should have the authority to remove them through ballot, and others should have no right to sack government or elected representatives.
Criticising the Supreme Court verdict of July 28, he said the PCO [Gen Pervez Musharraf-era Provisional Constitution Order] judges who administered oath to dictators in the past were responsible for his ouster from power.
“If I were charged with corruption… I would not have any objection,” he said, but added he was sacked for not taking salaries from the firm owned by his son. “The people of Balochistan have rejected this decision and [they] disapprove it,” the former prime minister told the gathering.
Sharif said the PML-N government was building motorways and highways and there was massive development in Balochistan during his four years as the prime minister. He said it was his government which built the Gwadar-Quetta Highway, which cut the travel time to eight hours.
“Motorways and highways will be built in Balochistan in the years to come. More roads will connect Quetta with Peshawar, Dera Ismail Khan and Dera Ghazi Khan. There will be connectivity of Sindh, Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa with Balochistan,” he added.
Sharif said the criticism of Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif – his younger brother – over metro bus and a train service was misplaced. “Now the opponents are also trying to launch metro bus project in Peshawar,” he added.
Sharif also announced provision of Sui gas facility to Chaman.
He praised PkMAP chief Mahmood Khan Achakzai for inviting him to address the gathering. He paid glowing tributes to the late Samad Khan Achakzai, saying that he was a great leader of the Subcontinent.
He also praised Balochistan Chief Minister Nawab Sanaullah Zehri, and said both Zehri and Achakzai were friends and allies. “We [the PML-N and the PkMAP] enjoy an ideological relationship in politics,” he said.
Sharif praised the people of Quetta for being brave and honest and resisting the autocratic rule on the country. He said the people would ensure the rule of law in the country by waging a relentless struggle.
Achakzai warns of street protests
Speaking on the occasion, PkMAP chief Mahmood Achakzai said he was a committed democrat and opposed autocracy. He warned of street protests if any dictator seized power. He said the question “whether the state is for the agencies or the agencies are for the state” must be settled.
The PkMAP chief sought a commitment from Sharif that he would make parliament sovereign, establish the rule of law and the Constitution, and ensure inalienable democratic rights to people.
Speaking about the disqualification of Sharif, he deplored that one man was made target of corruption, terming it revenge and not accountability. “There is corruption in every sector and there is need that every corrupt man should be made accountable,” he said.
Achakzai offered to mediate between the Baloch leaders and the government for restoration of peace in the province. He said he was ready to go to foreign countries and bring back the sons of late Nawab Khair Bakhsh Marri to Pakistan.
Achakzai said Balochistan had joined Pakistan on its free will. “There is no master and no slave [in this Federation] and all nations are equal and shareholders of the state, Pakistan belongs to all,” he said. Without the supremacy of law and the Constitution, Pakistan could not progress, he added.
“Pakistan should be ruled according to the will of the 210 million people,” Achakzai said. “There should be a clear decision [now] if Pakistan was created for the agencies or the agencies are for Pakistan,” he asked.
The PkMAP leader warned that the country was being pushed towards a civil war. However, he declared that the Balochs and Pakhtuns living in the province would never fight each other as they tried to solve all their issues amicably.
He said his father had been kept in jail for 22 years for fighting for the rights of the people. He recalled that in the past, Nawab Nauroz Khan was asked to lay down arms, but later all his associates and relatives were executed.
“Still his grandson [Chief Minister Zehri] is supporting Nawaz Sharif at this critical juncture of our political history,” he said. “Nawab Bugti was assassinated, Benazir Bhutto was ‘executed’ and Nawab Marri was imprisoned… they never raised slogans against Pakistan,” he added. “Countries will not survive if there is no justice,” he warned.
He then directly addressed Sharif, saying: “If you have decided there should be parliamentary democracy, supremacy of law and the Constitution, internal and foreign policy should be framed by parliament, and parliament should remain of only source of power, ‘we will support you’.”
In his address, Chief Minister Zehri called for maintaining sanctity of the vote and democratic stability in the country. He said he and his colleagues would be part of the Sharif’s political caravan.
Zehri paid glowing tributes to Khan Samad Khan Shaheed and praised his relentless struggle for the rights of the oppressed and suppressed people. “Khan Samad Khan waged a struggle for the oppressed people and fought the British colonial rulers and remained in jail for more than two decades.”