PDM’s jalsa in Gujranwala: Has Nawaz Sharif’s speech put the government on defensive?

Nawaz blamed the COAS and DG ISI for dislodging his government back in 2017. If General Bajwa got Nawaz disqualified then why did PML-N vote in the parliament to give an extension in service to the same General? Read GVS News Analysis.

Nawaz Sharif

Nawaz Sharif, former prime minister of Pakistan, addressed a rally of the opposition parties from London. The protest was staged in Gujranwala. In his speech, Nawaz named the army chief and DG ISI for ‘stealing the public mandate’ and ‘installing an incompetent government’. The PML-N supremo also demanded answers from the COAS for ‘failing this nation’. “This incompetent government has made lives of the masses miserable,” he said.

He also blamed the COAS and DG ISI for ousting him through ‘controlling and dictating the courts’. Notably, it is not for the first time that Nawaz slammed the security establishment for ‘political engineering’. On September 20, he claimed that then DG ISI approached him and asked him to step-down.

However, former DG ISI, retired Lt Gen Zaheerul Islam, has said he never asked for the resignation of former premier and PML-N supremo Nawaz Sharif in 2014. “I never sent anyone to convey any such message to [Nawaz], this is absolutely wrong,” he said while speaking to The News.

Nawaz’s received mixed reactions. Prominent anchorperson Rauf Klasra revealed that “I spoke with some senior PML-N leaders and they are shocked to watch Nawaz vilifying the army”.

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He also that the senior leadership of the party now thinks that “we may not be able to do politics in this situation”.

There is also another view that if the current army chief was behind Nawaz’s removal as the prime minister then why did his party vote to grant an extension to the same person? Does it imply that a deal was underway but some unexpected circumstances led Nawaz to vilify the establishment?

Why was Nawaz disqualified?

It is important to mention here that on April 20, 2017, the Supreme Court of Pakistan issued orders in the Panamagate case and directed the formation of a Joint Investigation Team (JIT) to probe the Sharif family’s financial affairs.

FIA’s Additional Director General Wajid Zia, a grade 21 officer, was appointed as head of the probe team. The JIT consisted of Amer Aziz of the State Bank of Pakistan, Executive Director of the Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan Bilal Rasool, National Accountability Bureau Director Irfan Naeem Mangi, Brig Muha­mmad Nauman Saeed of the Inter-Services Intelligence and Brig Kamran Khurshid of the Military Intelligence.

On the basis of the JIT report, SC on July 28, 2017, disqualified Nawaz Sharif for not being honest and truthful.  The court stated that “it is hereby declared that having failed to disclose his un-withdrawn receivables, constituting assets from Capital FZE Jebel Ali, UAE in his nomination papers filed for the General Elections held in 2013 in terms of Section 12(2)(f) of the Representation of the People Act, 1976 (ROPA), and having furnished a false declaration under solemn affirmation respondent No. 1, Mian Muhammad Nawaz Sharif is not honest in terms of Section 99(f) of ROPA and Article 62(1)(f) of the Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, 1973 and therefore he is disqualified to be a Member of the Majlis-e-Shoora (Parliament)”.

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The bench further said that on the basis of this information, collected by the JIT, cases should be opened against then Finance Minister Ishaq Dar; then MNA Captain Muhammad Safdar; Maryam, Hassan and Hussain Nawaz, and the ousted premier, Nawaz Sharif.

“Government is on the defensive”

Some analysts are of the view that the rally held by the Opposition should be of concern for the government. Fahd Husain, Dawn’s resident editor in Islamabad, wrote in his latest article [t]he initiative [Opposition’s anti-government campaign] is now with the opposition and the government is on the defensive. He further notes that “[f]or the government, PDM’s first jalsa should be of concern”.

Read More: Does the government really want to bring Nawaz Sharif back to Pakistan?

Fahd argues that “[t]he usual gang of spokespeople may harp on what they have been harping on but the serious members of the government should be looking deep and long at the images of the crowds”. “A momentum is a dangerous thing when you are on the wrong side of it,” he added. While quoting an example from the recent history, he says that [t]he lawyers’ movement in 2007 picked up steam with each passing day. It dominated the streets and consumed media oxygen at the expense of the sitting government. This momentum pushed that movement into the imagination of the public and helped disparate people coalesce around a cause. The past casts a large shadow on the present.”

It is yet to be seen how the army responds to the statements made by the former premier.

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