ISLAMABAD: Attorney General for Pakistan (AGP) Anwar Mansoor Khan has warned that if the undertaking for the return of former premier Nawaz Sharif is not fulfilled, Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) President Shehbaz Sharif will be disqualified for lifetime in view of Article 62 (1) (f) on account of submitting false statement in the Lahore High Court (LHC).
Addressing a press conference along with Special Assistant to Prime Minister (SAPM) on Information and Broadcasting Firdous Ashiq Awan on Saturday, AGP Mansoor stated that Shehbaz had submitted an affidavit in LHC in which an undertaking for Nawaz’s return was given.
“This undertaking is not an ordinary thing as it has grave repercussions. If the same is not fulfilled, Shehbaz can be disqualified for lifetime,” he said.
The AGP also said that the LHC had not rejected the government’s stance of acquiring an indemnity bond for Nawaz’s return, adding that the LHC order was tentative and interim in nature wherein no reason had been given.
“The court just allowed Nawaz to go abroad on humanitarian grounds. The government is still firm on its earlier demand of an indemnity bond and the same will be argued before the LHC in January. The case is yet to be decided on merit,” he said.
On filing the appeal against the LHC order, the AGP said though the written order was yet to be issued, the final decision on the matter would be taken by the cabinet.
Breeze of change starts blowing
After granting bail to PML-N Vice President Maryam Nawaz, the debate is already ongoing as whether the winds, or at the very least, a slight breeze of change has begun to blow through superior courts.
Likewise, the PML-N legal team is hopeful that the party leadership would get more relief soon after the retirement of Chief Justice Asif Saeed Khosa.
The relationship between the PML-N and the judiciary remained cordial till April 20, 2017 verdict in the Panamagate case.
The Sharif family got much relief from the courts in the past. On the other hand, their rivals, especially the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), had faced tough time before the superior judiciary. Same was witnessed during the tenure of ex-chief justice Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry (2009-2013).
Even the apex court rescued the PML-N government when the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) and the Pakistan Awami Tehreek (PAT) arranged a sit-in in 2014. Likewise, contrary to the PPP regime, the court did not interfere in governance issues in first four years of the PML-N regime (2013-2017).
However, after April 20, 2017 verdict in the Panamagate case, the relationship became between the PML-N and the judiciary became tense as the PML-N media cell had started a campaign against the Joint Investigation Team (JIT) and the apex court.
The senior judges, especially former chief justice Saqib Nisar, were visibly upset by the PML-N media campaign targeting the judiciary and the JIT. Even the three-judge bench, headed by Justice (retd) Ejaz Afzal Khan had pointed out that eight people were targeting the Supreme Court and the JIT on media.
Later, former chief justice Nisar disqualified three PML-N lawmakers in contempt case, while a few senators were also ousted. The PML-N leaders were also summoned in different cases.
Cases against the PML-N workers were registered on account of using scandalous language against former chief justice Nisar. The PML-N leadership complained that they were not given a level-playing field in the last election.
It was also witnessed that the PML-N legal team failed to get relief during the tenure of Chief Justice Asif Saeed Khosa. Though Nawaz was granted bail for eight weeks on medical grounds but the relief could not be extended.
Likewise, the party lawyers questioned Chief Justice Khosa’s verdict in Judge Arshad Malik’s video case.
However, they were confident that party leaders would get relief from superior courts in the next couple of months. They also believed that Nawaz’s conviction would be quashed in the Al-Azizia reference.
Further, a senior PTI lawyer believed that the court granted ‘unprecedented relief’ to Nawaz by holding that he would return when certified by doctors that he regained his health and was fit to return to Pakistan.
The lawyer said that Sharif family would easily manage to get certification that “Nawaz is unfit to travel back to Pakistan”.
For the first time, the Islamabad High Court as well as the Lahore High Court gave relief to Nawaz on Saturday as superior courts’ judges never sit to hear cases.