PML-N chief plays his cards close to his chest

Party rank and file in the dark over modalities about anti-judiciary drive


Sardar Sikander December 25, 2017
Nawaz Sharif. PHOTO: REUTERS

ISLAMABAD: The Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) leadership may have announced launching the ‘movement for justice’ but the party rank and file are clueless about related modalities.

So far, neither PML-N chief Nawaz Sharif nor any of his associates have unveiled the specifics and related plans about the movement which the former prime minister announced to launch a few days back in Lahore.

Some PML-N circles believe Sharif’s announcement to launch the movement against the judiciary would prove to be no more than a political statement because of its controversial nature and internal unease the party leadership is faced with over the issue.

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Background discussions with some senior PML-N leaders suggest that Sharif discussed the issue with senior party leadership –including Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, Punjab Chief Minister Shehbaz Sharif and PML-N Chairman Raja Zafarul Haq – but he was advised that launching the controversial campaign and that too at a time when the ruling party was facing multifaceted challenges would end up further denting the N-League’s political graph.

Political parties like the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf and Pakistan People’s Party have already announced that they were ready to resist the government’s move should it proceed with ‘defaming’ the judiciary.

“You don’t launch agitation(s) when you are the government,” is the reported view of seasoned party leaders of Sharif’s confrontational plans. “Agitation is an instrument of the opposition, not the government.”

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The sources said the party command has adopted a wait-and-watch approach — to witness the turn of events before taking any action.

“There has been no headway,” commented a PML-N lawmaker from Punjab regarding the N-League’s plan to launch the movement.

“It’s better to stay silent instead of inviting unnecessary trouble,” he said on the condition of not being named.

The source said the party leadership fears lack of public participation in the justice campaign which is why it has so far refrained from giving a go-ahead to the confrontational plans.

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“It is so unbecoming of a ruling party to act like an opposition. What justification do we have to get in a confrontational mode in the name of seeking justice when we are in power at the Centre, in Punjab, Balochistan, Azad Jammu and Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan?” he asked.

In this context, the sources said, there is a feeling in the party that Sharif’s statement regarding launching the movement for justice would more or less meet a similar fate to that of his announcement regarding Khatm-e-Nabuwwat clause change controversy.

Not long ago, Sharif had announced forming a committee under the chair of Zafarul Haq with the directions to share its report ‘within 24 hours’ regarding a sudden change in the text of Khatm-e-Nabuwwat avowal clause from the previous Election Bill 2017. The report is still awaited despite the passage of more than two months.

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“Some statements better be kept from implementation. Or else, there are repercussions,” a party senator said, requesting anonymity.

Punjab’s Law Minister Rana Sanaullah, however, denied that the Punjab chief minister had advised the former prime minister against launching the movement for justice.

“It is the political, democratic and fundamental right of PML-N or any other political party to launch any movement while staying within the parameters of constitution and rule of law,” he told The Express Tribune when approached by phone.

He said the movement for justice is being “mistaken as an anti-judiciary campaign which it is not”.

Saying, the movement would aim at highlighting the provision of ‘merit-based’ and speedy justice for all without any discrimination.

“There should be no pick and choose policy in dissemination of justice.”

Sanaullah said the party leadership has been holding meetings on the modalities of the movement in Lahore and soon a detailed strategy would be finalised.

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