ISLAMABAD   -  Conviction of Nawaz Sharif, his daughter Maryam Nawaz and son-in-law Capt (r) Safdar in the Avenfield properties reference by National Accountability Court Islamabad will add to the problems of the Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz), which is already left with limited options to deal with the challenge of the upcoming general elections.

Political analysts and veteran politicians both from PML-N and other political parties are of the unanimous view that the Sharifs’ conviction at the time when general elections are only over two weeks away would cause a major damage to the party which is still to recover from the loss of massive defections of electables, mainly from the Punjab.

The conviction of Nawaz Sharif, his daughter and son-in-law was preceded by a series of acts to marginalise the party in shape of harassing its candidates, forced defections and change of loyalties, and even arrest of some of them, alleged a PML-N leader adding that all this is being done to hinder the PML-N candidates from freely running their election campaign.

The arrest of top bureaucrats including Ahad Cheema and Fawad Hassan Fawad was also an attempt to harass the PML-N leadership and to give an impression that PML-N would not be coming to power, as the top party leadership including Shehbaz Sharif, Nawaz Sharif and other mainstream party leaders would be put behind the bars before or soon after the elections.

But the most disheartening aspect for PML-N diehard workers and leaders of all these happenings was the lacklustre post-conviction reaction by the party high-ups who seemed helpless instead of aggressive about the unjustified conviction, a senior PML-N leader said.

Water is poured on the rest of the hopes of the party leaders and activists, when party Quaid Mian Nawaz Sharif in a press conference in London failed to give any definite date for his return and again linked his return to the health of his ailing wife.

Although Nawaz Sharif gave hope to the party leaders and activists back home to fight the anti-democracy forces and those trampling the sanctity of vote but his failure to give any definite date of his return would demoralise the workers who are already under duress and fighting against the odds in his absence.

Nawaz Sharif, and now to some extent his daughter Maryam Nawaz, are the only crowd-puller leaders in PML-N and in case they do not come back in a next few days the party’s overall election campaign would suffer greatly, a PML-N leader, who did not want to be named, said.

He further said that till now the PML-N candidates were canvassing in their respective constituencies but the party would be requiring some big public gatherings across the country ahead of July 25 elections to gear and mobilise the swing votes in favour of PML-N candidates and only Nawaz Sharif is capable of doing this like he had done in the 2013 general elections.

Legal experts said that in the given situation Nawaz Sharif and his daughter are required to file an appeal against the verdict within 10 days but before doing so they first of all have to surrender themselves to law and go to jail for filing an appeal.

Again it will be the discretion of the appellate bench to grant them bail or not but normally the court grants bail in such cases where the accused are regular in their appearance in trial court.

So even if former premier Nawaz Sharif does return in a next few days, he will not be in a position to lead the party’s election campaign because he will require some time to get bail from the appellate court.

But political analysts are of the view that whether Nawaz Sharif would be able to run the party campaign or not his return would give boost to the party candidates in the arena for the upcoming general elections.

The party leadership is already contemplating on the proposition that Nawaz Sharif would stay back in London and would address a few big public rallies in big cities through video-link to mobilise public in support of his party candidates. But political analysts doubt that such addresses by the party Quaid would fill the void of his absence from the political horizon of the country.



Our of the frying pan into the fire


Abrar Saeed