News Analysis |
Lahore – The PTI government is in panic over the mere appointment of Maryam Nawaz Sharif as Vice President of the PMLN. Maryam Aurangzeb, PMLN’s current spokesperson, and its former Information Minister argued on Tuesday evening, during her appearance on a private TV channel.
PTI reacts to Maryam’s appointment as VP PMLN but will it challenge it in courts?
Her reaction came out as a response to the statement of the Special Assistant on Information and Broadcasting, Dr. Firdous Ashiq Awan who had earlier, in a press conference held on Monday, stated that Maryam Nawaz’s new appointment as vice president of the PMLN was illegal, and one that violated the code of conduct established by the Election Commission of Pakistan.
The divisional bench of the IHC that ordered suspension till the final judgment was headed by Justice Athar Minallah and Justice Gul Hasan Aurangzeb.
Dr. Firdous Ashiq Awan, who is de-facto information minister after Fawad Chauhdry’s departure, targeted Maryam Nawaz with severe criticism over her new appointment by openly stating it as a “dictatorial mindset” – an illegal act obstructing the regulations put forward by the Election Commission of Pakistan that prohibits convicted to hold any political office. Furthermore, Shah Mehmood Qureshi, Foreign Minister of Pakistan and a senior leader of PTI had questioned, while talking to media, that on what legal grounds Maryam Nawaz had been permitted to hold a party position.
He further argued that while she had been provided with temporary relief from her sentence, her convicted status remains in place and hence, her suspension from political activities continues to be legally valid. However, it is still not clear if the PTI government would pursue this case legally in courts or ECP.
What about JKT? Questions PML-N
In a counter-argument, the PMLN leadership has accused PTI of double standards. They argue that Jahangir Khan Tareen, a close aide to the PM, former General Secretary and a senior member of the PTI, enjoys various undercover decision-making roles despite his permanent suspension to hold any political office by the Supreme Court in 2018. The PMLN leadership pointed at the several appearances of Tareen in meetings pertaining to public policy and interests.
The PTI government is in panic over the mere appointment of Maryam Nawaz Sharif as Vice President of the PMLN.
On May 6, Tareen was seen heading a meeting alongside the Prime Minister on the roadmap for local government elections in Punjab. However, Tareen, since the supreme court decision, does not enjoy any formal political position or party title and has more or less played the role of a personal advisor to Imran Khan, the PM of Pakistan. Though it is believed by many that Tareen might soon file a review of the Supreme Court decision.
In a massive revamp within the PMLN party structure, surprising yet predictable rearrangements were made that primarily aimed at bringing the dynastic heirs of the Sharif family into the mainstream politics with the appointment of Hamza Shahbaz Sharif and Maryam Nawaz Sharif as Vice Presidents of the party.
On May 3, a day after vacating his position as the opposition leader and the chairpersonship of the Public Accounts Committee, Shahbaz Sharif, President of the PMLN and Ex-Chief Minister of Punjab, formally approved the newly reshuffled party positions. Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, former Prime Minister of Pakistan and a trusted aide to the Sharif brothers, has been appointed as a Senior Vice President and acting President of the PMLN.
The supreme court decision, does not enjoy any formal political position or party title and has more or less played the role of a personal advisor to Imran Khan.
Khawaja Asif, Rana Tanveer and Rana Sanaullah have been appointed as the Parliamentary Leader, Head of Public Account Committee and President of PMLN Punjab, respectively. Furthermore, Hanif Abbasi has been appointed as the Senior Vice President of Punjab, perhaps as an acknowledgement of his suffering in prison for 9 months.
Maryam’s sentence Suspended but not set aside
Maryam Nawaz, who was pronounced guilty of concealment of facts, had been convicted and awarded a 7-year sentence by a NAB court in the Avenfield Apartment reference case on July 6, 2018, under NAO 1999 9(a)(v)(xii). The court had observed that Maryam “aided, assisted, abetted, attempted and acted in conspiracy with her father” in the concealment of the truth via forgery of the trust deeds presented to the court.
Similarly, Capt. (Retd) Safdar, the son-in-law of Nawaz Sharif and the husband of Maryam Nawaz, was also awarded a year in jail for noncooperation with NAB and for assisting both Nawaz and Maryam. Whereas, the accountability court convicted Nawaz under NAO 1999 9(a)(v) for owning assets beyond declared income, and had handed him a 10 plus 1-year sentence for the said conviction and noncooperation with NAB.
Hanif Abbasi has been appointed as the Senior Vice President of Punjab, perhaps as an acknowledgement of his suffering in prison for 9 months.
On 19 September 2018, the Islamabad High Court suspended the Avenfield Apartment Case decision of the NAB court. The divisional bench of the IHC that ordered suspension till the final judgment was headed by Justice Athar Minallah and Justice Gul Hasan Aurangzeb. Subsequently, the suspension ordered by IHC was challenged by the NAB in the Supreme Court of Pakistan (SC) to which the SC severely criticized the broad sweep of the decision making by the IHC.
The general criticism was primarily based on the role of IHC that went beyond the remit of the high court which was, in that case, only limited to the provision of bail and not necessarily the suspension of the decision of the NAB court.
From a legal point of view, the government has, therefore, a strong case against the appointment of Maryam Nawaz Sharif, as Vice President PMLN, given that her conviction, in a criminal case, has not been set aside. While major political leadership of the PTI government have voiced their concerns over Maryam Nawaz’s appointment, it is still not clear if the government will legally challenge her position as the newly appointed Vice President of the PMLN.