LAHORE - The PML-N is ctriticising the five-judge bench’s verdict against Mian Nawaz Sharif because the former prime minister has not been given the right to appeal, which is available even to terrorists and the accused involved in other serious crimes, says a former information minister.

Senator Pervaiz Rashid, who is among the closest aides to Mr Sharif , said while talking to The Nation yesterday that his party was not questioning the apex court’s ability to deliver justice, nor was taking on any state institution.

He complained that the case against the former prime minister was completed on “fast track”, although cases against many other people remained undecided even for 15/16 years.

He was asked to justify his party’s criticism of the judgment delivered by five judges of the country’s top court, two of whom were senior most and would be the chief justices of Pakistan after the retirement of incumbent CJP Justice Saqib Nisar.

The former minister said the case against Mr Sharif had been started from the Supreme Court after which he was deprived of the right to appeal. Mr Sharif , he argued, was not found involved in corruption, money laundering or kickbacks and was disqualified on a flimsy ground.

Asked if the Iqama possession was not a proof enough that while in office the former prime minister was also the employee of another country, which was matter of great embarrassment for the nation, Senator Pervaiz Rashid said it was purely a personal matter of Mr Sharif . He said Mr Sharif and his family had been banished to Saudi Arabia by Gen Musharraf for ten years, and this was the period when the industrialist-turned-politician had to get Iqama. He argued that if the family had not been sent into exile, Mr Sharif would not have been forced to get Iqama.

The real culprit in this case was the dictator who had banished the Sharifs, said the former minister, who lost his job as a consequence of the Dawnleaks.

“Had not the Sharifs left the country willingly, as a result of an agreement with the same dictator”, he was asked.

Nobody likes to go to jail willingly, replied Senator Pervaiz Rashid, adding that the former prime minister had tried to return to Pakistan via London but immediately after landing at the Islamabad airport was forced to go back to Jeddah.

Questioned as to how the top court’s verdict could be reversed, he said in fact the judgment had raised a thousand questions. The PML-N, he said, was adopting every legal course to get a relief for Mr Sharif .

“The PML-N would not have raised any objection if the same court, adopting the same procedure, had given a favourable judgment in this case,” The Nation argued.

“We would not have raised any objection if the court had done justice,” said Senator Pervaiz Rashid, adding that it was not just the PML-N but the legal fraternity was critical of the verdict.

Q: “Will it be right to conclude that the three-time prime minister failed to give the country a system of justice that could not dispense justice in his own case?”

A: Unfortunately, Mr Sharif was not allowed to complete his earlier two terms and was dismissed beforehand. Even this time he was working for the nation with a commitment but was removed. It would have been better if the PML-N had been ousted through vote.

Q: Can an ordinary mortal speak against the apex court like the PML-N has been doing since the announcement of the July 28 verdict? Has the PML-N government ever raised a voice for other people awarded punishment by courts?

A: We are not confronting any institution. It’s a baseless allegation. Nobody can cite any example to substantiate this allegation. Our reservations are only against this particular verdict. We are not questioning the ability of the apex court to deliver justice.

When pointed out that the PML-N was simultaneously taking on both the judiciary and the army, major parties like the PTI and PPP were not supporting this line of action because of which the party could land in more trouble, Senator Pervaiz Rashid said his party’s arch rivals were doing what suited their political interests in the election year.

Q: Former prime minister’s sons Hussain and Hasan are not appearing before the court on the plea that Pakistan’s laws are not applicable to them as they are non-resident Pakistanis.  This is not the right position expected from the honest people. Their defence should be as transparent as transparent they want the trial should be.

A: They would not have come up with this argument had they received justice in the earlier proceedings. This argument was also available to them earlier when they appeared before the courts, but they got disappointed when the prime minister was disqualified on the basis of a non-issue. Now they will use all options the law gives them.

Asked what the PML-N has concluded from the important leaders joining the PTI one after the other, the former information minister said this was of no importance for his party. It’s house full in the PML-N. Up to half a dozen candidates are available for every assembly seat and in such a situation there is no room for the outsiders.

He said this question was more relevant for the parties whose members were parting ways with them to join other parties.

 

Sharif not given right available even to terrorists : Pervaiz