The ranks of the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) government is engulfed with a demoralizing surge of pessimism after the departure of incarcerated former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to London, and they fear that Sharif’s departure from the country will cause political damage to the ruling party and its promise to provide equality before law will quickly lose its credibility.
Media reports and interviews with several prominent members and federal ministers of the PTI reveal that throughout the discussion with Prime Minister Imran Khan with regards to allowing Sharif to travel aboard, any conservative members had staunchly opposed the notions of allowing him unconditional permission to leave the country. On the other hand, allies of the government were mounting pressure on the premier to allow Nawaz to travel abroad for his healthcare needs.
PTI Members Demoralized
Sources reveal that Federal Ministers Fawad Chaudhry, Faisal Vawda and Special Assistant to the Prime Minister Zulfi Bukhari were strongly opposed to the idea of allowing Nawaz Sharif to leave the country. However, sources added that there was one PTI leader on a key position within the federal cabinet who attempted to persuade the premier, on multiple occasions, to allow Nawaz to travel abroad.
Media reports reveal that a federal minister claimed that the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) had floated the idea of placing the condition of Rs7 billion worthy indemnity bond over Nawaz Sharif’s departure during a meeting of the special committee, spearheaded by Law Minister Farogh Nasim.
Read more: PTI Faces Criticism: First On Not Letting Nawaz Go & Now On Letting Him Go
A senior PTI leader appointed on a key government post and part of the consultation process said, as per media reports, “The party is gripped with a sense of loss after Nawaz Sharif’s departure.” He said that the leadership will have to make efforts to appease PTI loyalists and supporters who are demotivated, as reflected through their remarks on social media.
He said, “The same frustration can be felt throughout Prime Minister Imran Khan’s speech, delivered on Monday at the inauguration of the Hazara motorway.”
PTI’s Promise for Equality?
The PTI leader added that presently, the party has been divided into two viewpoints, but it would be an exaggeration to say that the park is experiencing any rifts as a clear majority was against Nawaz Sharif’s departure. He said that those who favored his departure maintained that it would inflict damage upon the PML-N as opposed to the PTI, and the government will be able to focus on its challenges and governance achievements.
He added that those opposing Sharif’s departure maintained the PTI will be going against it foundational principles of ensuring equality before the law, and it would be a grave injustice to other prisoners who need medical treatment.
Read more: No rift between PML-Q and PTI, Ch. Pervaiz Elahi
The PTI leader maintained that the Prime Minister remains concerned about Nawaz Sharif’s health condition, but there were actual legal challenges in allowing a convict to travel abroad. Another senior PTI leader remarked that the pictures circulating on social media reveal an elaborately suited Nawaz Sharif sitting in an air ambulance and shows no sign of illness.
The Minister for Science and Technology, Fawad Chaudhry, has been quite vocal in his disbelief over Nawaz Sharif’s illness, and remarked that allowing Sharif’s departure will question the credibility of PTI’s promise of ensuring equality before the law.
پاکستان کے وفاقی وزیر برائے سائنس اور ٹیکنالوجی فواد چوہدری نے کہا ہے کہ سابق وزیر اعظم نواز شریف کی ممکنہ بیرون ملک روانگی ملکی نظام انصاف پر لگنے والا ایک بڑا سوالیہ نشان اور دھچکا ہو گی۔ @AaliyaShah1 @fawadchaudhry https://t.co/3ZD36c7wIY
— DW اردو (@dw_urdu) November 18, 2019
The Minister, speaking to a private news channel, also expressed his surprise over the delays in Sharif’s plan to depart for London, and claimed if there was no emergency, why did the PML-N beseech the Lahore High Court to address the case on a holiday when it could be heard on Monday?
A PTI leader from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa reportedly said, “Not the PTI or the PML-N-but Pakistan will suffer the brunt of the recent developments.”