ABBOTTABAD - Ousted prime minister Nawaz Sharif vowed to stay in Pakistan and in politics as he formally launched his ruling party’s 2018 election campaign with a public gathering in Abbotabad on Sunday.

Claiming innocence and rejecting his disqualification by the Supreme Court, he said his ouster was the result of a conspiracy. He then reiterated the development feats of his government and expressed the hope he would eventually return to power owing to his popularity.

Nawaz Sharif, who appeared happy to see the great rush at the venue, told the crowd he really loves them. He told them that “no court decision can break the ties” between him and his supporters.

The Supreme Court verdict in Panama Papers case has thrown the powerful Sharif family into an existential crisis. Not only Nawaz has been de-seated as prime minister, he and his family members are facing gruelling corruption cases in the accountability courts, thanks to a damning report by a Joint Investigation Team (JIT) which claimed the family has accumulated wealth far beyond its known sources of income.

But Nawaz Sharif, who heads the ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), maintains that the cases against him and his family members are actually political in nature.

The disgruntled ex-premier reiterated before the Abbottabad gathering that no allegation of corruption was proven against him yet he was ousted from his office.

He said those who are talking about ‘minus-Nawaz formula’ are unaware of the fact that Nawaz Sharif was the name of an ideology, which was aimed at serving the masses and making Pakistan a developed country. That ideology, he added, would bring a revolution in the country.

“A whole drama was staged in the name of Panama Papers and my entire family was dragged into courts… but we still accepted the accountability calls because we are not guilty,” he said.

Nawaz Sharif said he was disqualified on a petition which was earlier rejected by the court. He said his whole family faced the court and was investigated by the joint investigation team, but corruption of not even a single penny was proved. He said no one had questioned the people who had looted the country’s wealth during last 70 years.

He expressed resentment that he was ousted for not taking salary from a company owned by his son. “When all attempts were in vain, they disqualified me on this incomprehensible context,” he said. “Have you heard any such verdict anywhere else in the world? This only happens in Pakistan. We need to change this trend.”

The ex-PM said nothing could keep him away from the people as “today’s huge enthusiast gathering reminded me of the warm welcome I had received during the campaign for general election 2013”. It was a message for those who wanted to oust him from politics, he added.

He maintained that people of Pakistan will give their verdict on the review petitions regarding Panama Papers case.

“I will come back to you again in 2018 general elections with an aim to change fate of Pakistan... Together we would bring a revolutionary change in the country.” He added that the people’s confidence was his main strength and he had brought his case to their court.

The former premier claimed that the joint investigation team formed to probe Panama Papers and his family’s alleged connection with it would soon be exposed before the public.

No one could now usurp power by force as the people wanted democracy in the country and that was the reason that he had filed his ‘review petition’ in the public court, he said.

 

Nawaz Sharif said the country had made progress during the democratic regimes. It was time to strengthen the democratic system with upholding the sanctity of ‘vote’.

He said when he took the charge of the government after the election 2013, Pakistan’s economy was at the verge of collapse with terrorist incidents and power load-shedding were order of the day. Electricity outages and long lines of vehicles at CNG stations had made the people psychiatric patients.

However, it was his government which put the country on the path of economic growth by eliminating terrorism and overpowering power load-shedding, he added.

Nawaz Sharif said the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) made sacrifices for the country, but he was disqualified.

The former prime minister said during the 2013 election campaign, he had made some promises with the people of Hazara, but motorway was not included in those promises. However, he later inaugurated the construction of six-lane motorway and its Burhan to Havelian section was near completion and would be opened for traffic next month, he added.

“When we were initiating mega projects in the country, opponents were staging sit-ins,” he said, adding that those making tall claims of eliminating corruption and ending electricity outages in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa had done nothing.

Pakhtunkhwa Awami Milli Party chief Mehmood Khan Achakzai, and Adviser to the Prime Minister on Aviation Sardar Mehtab Ahmed Khan also addressed the gathering.

KP Governor Iqbal Zafar Jhagra, National Assembly Deputy Speaker Murtaza Javed Abbasi, Federal Minister for Religious Affairs Sardar Muhammad Yousaf, General (r) Salahuddin Trimzi, PML-N KP President Ameer Muqam, former Information minister Senator Pervez Rasheed, Senator Dr Asif Kirmani, BISP Chairman Marvi Memon, Member National Assembly Capt (r) Safdar and others were also present on the occasion.

Nawaz Sharif earlier reached Islamabad in a special plane from Lahore and was received by Islamabad Mayor Sheikh Ansar Aziz at the airport.

He also met Pakhtunkhwa Milli Awami Party (PkMAP) chief Mahmood Khan Achakzai, his party ally, at the airport and exchanged views on current political situation. The disqualified premier then reached his home in Murree, and left for Abbottabad after a while.

 

 

Nawaz vows to return to power