ISLAMABAD - The Pakistan People’s Party believes ousted prime minister Nawaz Sharif was “safe” after the Hudaibiya Paper Mills case verdict by the Supreme Court but the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf chief was “still in trouble” despite a favourable decision by the apex court.

Close aides of the PPP leadership told The Nation that Hudaibiya Paper Mills case was the case against Sharif, which had been quashed by the SC.

Imran Khan’s qualification, they said, still depended on the Election Commission.

Officially too, the PPP was soft on the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz and harsh on the PTI after the back-to-back landmark decisions by the top court.

The PPP chief Bilawal Bhutto Zardari chided Imran Khan - after his close aide Jehangir Tareen was disqualified by the top court – saying he had lost a financer. 

In a tweet, Bilawal said: “ATM out of order #TareenOUT.” PPP Vice President Sherry Rehman said: “As IK [Imran Khan] continues to play on, and Tareen is out, will the latter ask, why have I been ousted [like Nawaz Sharif].”

Earlier, the SC announced two important decisions – dismissing Hudaibiya Paper Mills case against Nawaz Sharif’s family and clearing Imran Khan in a disqualification reference. First the good news came for the ruling PML-N as the top court turned down the plea of the National Accountability Bureau to reopen Hudaibiya Paper Mills case against Sharif family.

Hours later, the SC announced that Imran Khan was “qualified” for politics but disqualified his party’s Secretary General Jehangir Tareen.

Imran Khan has announced to review the decision against Tareen.

Analysts believe Hudaibiya Paper Mills case was the main hurdle for the Sharif family and other cases filed by the NAB would be easy to handle for the former first family. PPP’s Senator Farhatullah Babar said the Hudaibiya Paper Mills verdict would influence the future politics for the Sharif family. “It will have long-term bearings,” he maintained.  Speaking to The Nation, he said that the PML-N would be celebrating after the SC decision as they had something to play with.

Babar said the PPP was not depending on any adverse or favourable verdict against the political rivals to win the next year’s general elections.  “We are holding successful rallies and are getting good response. We will perform better on the basis of our popularity,” he claimed. PPP Secretary Information Chaudhry Manzoor Ahmed said the judicial decisions were hard to understand.

“A five-member bench had ordered to open the Hudaibiya Paper Mills case and a three-member bench has overturned it,” he explained.  Ahmed said Nawaz Sharif was disqualified on the same allegations but Imran Khan was cleared.

“Nawaz Sharif had also hidden assets and so did Imran Khan. If Nawaz Sharif has been disqualified, how can Imran Khan be allowed to walk free. Imran Khan had established an off-shore company but did not show it as his asset,” he contended.

The PPP leader said it was also beyond understanding how Imran Khan survived the disqualification case, while Jehangir Tareen was disqualified.

“The number one of the PTI [Imran Khan] was saved and the number two [Jehangir Tareen] was punished. In the PML-N’s case, the number one [Nawaz Sharif] was disqualified and the number two [Shehbaz Sharif] was given a relief,” Ahmed said.

He added: “Imran Khan’s engine has broken down. His ATM [Jehangir Tareen] has been shut down.”

The PPP, the PML-N and the PTI will contest the 2018 elections as the three main parties. The PPP leads the government in Sindh, the PTI in the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, while the PML-N has its governments in the centre, Punjab and Balochistan.

Currently, the PML-N is the largest party in the National Assembly, followed by the PPP and the PTI. The three main parties and the smaller parties have launched their election campaigns and are holding rallies across the country.