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PMLN turned Nawaz’s surrender to jail into a victory parade?

While Nawaz appears set to spend several more days or weeks in jail, most in the media still don't expect him to stay there for long. They argue Pakistan's criminal justice system and political field is not strong enough to keep someone like Nawaz in jail for long.

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News Desk |

PMLN workers and leadership, on Tuesday, successfully turned Nawaz Sharif’s surrender to the jail authorities, as mandated by Supreme Court order of March 26, into a victory parade; one befitting glorious homecoming of a King or general, returning home after a decisive victory over the enemy.

While Kot Lakhpat Jail authorities had delivered written orders to Nawaz Sharif in Jati Umrah requiring his surrender to the authorities before sunset but Nawaz did not surrender till past midnight. Rana Sana Ullah, President PML(N) Punjab, former minister for law and interior, thundered on TV screens that Nawaz has the right to surrender till midnight. Nawaz however took another hour after midnight to finally enter jail. Political commentators on tv argued that delay was deliberate to allow workers to gather for show of power – but till the end numbers remained unimpressive.

Nawaz’s lawyers however filed a review application in the Supreme Court on April 30, seeking an extension on the six-week bail until the decision on the review petition that sought permission for Mr. Sharif to leave the country for medical care.

Maryam Aurangzeb, the former Information Minister of Pakistan and now spokesperson of PML (N), in an interview with AAP News stated that owing to the deteriorating health of Mr. Sharif, the party will continue to seek legal remedy for his immediate release. Aurangzeb went on to warn that PMLN will soon be launching a massive movement, after Eid, to protest the high inflation and incompetency of the present government.

Nawaz’s Case of Relief on Health Ground Weakened in Last Six Weeks?

While PMLN leadership continues to talk of serious health condition of Nawaz Sharif, events of past six weeks have weakened this argument. Despite Supreme Court’s unprecedented decision to grant bail to Nawaz Sharif, a convicted person, on health grounds the former premiere occasionally visited Sharif Hospital, his family owned hospital, for few hours and did not undergo any medical or surgical procedures. Nawaz’s lawyers had made the case before Supreme Court that government is not letting Nawaz seek proper medical treatment of his own choice. But Nawaz’s demonstrated failure to seek any serious treatment over the past six weeks has now weakened the narrative earlier shaped by his family and party.

Read more: What is the future of Nawaz Sharif?

Supreme Court, in its March 26 decision, had provided that Nawaz can seek an extension in bail through Islamabad High Court; but it was mandatory for him to first surrender himself to the authorities. Nawaz’s lawyers however filed a review application in the Supreme Court on April 30, seeking an extension on the six-week bail until the decision on the review petition that sought permission for Mr. Sharif to leave the country for medical care. Both the pleas seeking extension on bail period and permission to seek medical care abroad were however rejected by the Supreme Court on May 3.

NRO & Plea Bargaining Debate on Media?

Prior to the May 3 decision of the SC, the possibility of an NRO or political bargaining was being hotly debated on TV channels. Sabir Shakir and Arif Bhatti of ARY network, considered insiders of political field, kept arguing in their own program, and later with Dr. Moeed Pirzada on 92 News that there is a growing-split within the Sharif family that has become a major hindrance in the resolution of the matter.

Outcome may also be affected by the political climate in the country. This may explain PMLN’s decision to join Maulana Fazal ur Rehman and PPP in a protest movement after Ramadan.

These political commentators, citing sources inside PMLN, argued that while, Nawaz Sharif’s mother favors a plea bargain with the government for seeking freedom for Nawaz, Maryam Nawaz Sharif, was adamant on fighting through political means. Whereas, according to their sources, Hassan and Hussain Sharif, who now control the family finances have blatantly refused to make any payments to NAB. However, all this debate looked suspect because any visible plea-bargaining means accepting guilt and “conviction” which will greatly damage the dynastic politics of the Sharif family and popularity of PML (N). Some pundits argued that payments were to be made to the state through friends in middle east.

All this media debate has not helped Nawaz’s case. On his return to the jail, it is now expected that Mr. Sharif is bound to spend several more days or weeks in jail until his lawyers end up making a strong case, based on his deteriorating health, before Islamabad High court. Outcome may also be affected by the political climate in the country. This may explain PMLN’s decision to join Maulana Fazal ur Rehman and PPP in a protest movement after Ramadan.

PM Imran Khan Refuses any Political Deal

Various opinions exist on the issue of providing concessions to Mr. Sharif; some believe that it would be a win-win situation for the PTI government if Nawaz is allowed to leave the country after plea-bargain payments, subsequently leading to the possibility of his disappearance from the political scene. While others are adamant that any fresh concessions to Nawaz would only add up to the traditional practice of political NROs that for years has damaged the socio-economic and political stability of the state bearing no moral lessons for the political leadership of the country.

Read more: Law vs. Politics: What future holds for Nawaz Sharif?

Prime Minister, Imran Khan, according to sources close to him, has however remained determined that no political deal will be offered. He wants to set an example for all future generations of Pakistani politicians to set a moral bar against abuse of public office for personal financial gains. Many in media however doubt if Pakistani criminal justice system and political field are strong enough to keep the likes of Nawaz Sharif in jail for long.

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