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In an unprecedented move, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf has announced that it will file a petition in the Supreme Court for the implementation of the 2012 verdict of the Asghar Khan case.

The decision was announced after a meeting at Imran Khan’s Bani Gala residence where the PTI leadership had gathered to discuss the ongoing issues of Panamagate and Dawn Leaks.

“Through the petition, the Supreme Court will be requested to initiate contempt of court proceedings against the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) for not implementing the apex court’s 2012 orders in the Asghar Khan case,”

The move indicates an evolution in PTI’s approach to target Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. By filing a new case against the Prime Minister, PTI will be attacking the PM on multiple fronts.

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“Through the petition, the Supreme Court will be requested to initiate contempt of court proceedings against the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) for not implementing the apex court’s 2012 orders in the Asghar Khan case,” said PTI spokesperson and counsel, Fawad Chaudhry, who will probably file the case himself.

What was the Asghar Khan case?

The Asghar Khan case implicates Nawaz Sharif, along with many other politicians and retired army officers, for scheming to depose then Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto in 1989 and then stealing the elections of 1990.

The operation resulted in the dismissal of Benazir and her subsequent loss in the 1990 elections.

Under the direction of President Ghulam Ishaq Khan and Chief of Army Staff Gen. Mirza Aslam Beg, former members of the ISI launched an operation to destabilize the democratically elected government of Benazir Bhutto. The operation was codenamed Midnight Jackal. As part of the operation, Nawaz Sharif received payments in order to fund his campaign for the 1990 elections. The aim of the operation was to force a no-confidence vote in the parliament against Bhutto.

The operation resulted in the dismissal of Benazir and her subsequent loss in the 1990 elections.

A petition was filed by Air Marshal (retd.) Asghar Khan in 1998 which demanded that the perpetrators who stole the 1989 elections be brought to justice. The case implicated Nawaz Sharif along with Gen. (retd) Aslam Beg.

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In November 2012, the Supreme Court released a 141 page verdict which directed FIA to launch a probe into the disbursement of Rs140 million in bribes among several politicians, including Nawaz Sharif.

A four-man bench was formed by the FIA and it collected statements from the accused however it failed to follow through with criminal proceedings against them.

Why is the PTI filing for the implementation of the verdict?

PTI and the government are currently embroiled in an intense legal battle over the Panama leaks, the result of which, many believe, will determine the direction the country will take for generations to come.

It remains to be seen if Nawaz Sharif can effectively shield himself from the legal onslaught against him.

In a perceivably retaliatory move, PML-N leader Hanif Abbasi has recently filed a petition against Imran Khan and Jehangir Tareen for their disqualification from the National Assembly over claims that they have hidden their sources of income.

Read More: Justice delayed is Justice denied: Panama Case nearing the end?

Imran Khan had previously dismissed the accusations as bogus and has characterized them as PML-N’s idea of a counter punch. He has also approached the Supreme Court to dismiss the petition.

If PTI files a petition for the implementation of the Asghar Khan case verdict then it will in effect strike at another weak point of the Prime Minister which had been perceived as covered.

This is not the first attempt of the PTI to open up the Asghar Khan case. In 2012, a petition was filed by PTI’s lawyer Fayyez Mehr to the Lahore High Court asking for the implementation of the Supreme Court’s verdict however, the court only took it up in 2016.

The current scenario may be experientially déjà vu for Nawaz Sharif. After all, he has been able to survive similar situations before. But the environment has evolved and his previous tactics may not prove as potent. It remains to be seen if Nawaz Sharif can effectively shield himself from the legal onslaught that he is currently struggling against.

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