Islamabad :The election of deposed Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif as the president of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) has conveyed a host of messages, the principal being that he can’t be consigned to history through any machination, and that the Supreme Court-sanctioned disqualification hasn’t reduced him into a big nobody.
Among several positive consequences produced for the ousted premier, his reelection as the party supremo unified the PML-N under his command and buried any possible friction and fissures. The uncertainty created by his disqualification came to an end. He staged the comeback just two months after he had to vacate the office in the wake of his ineligibility on July 28. As a consequence, his younger brother Shahbaz Sharif, who was to become the party president, had to miss the opportunity.
Although Nawaz Sharif was the de facto PML-N chief for being the main decision-maker even after having been compelled to leave the top slot, he decided to take it back for its utmost symbolic importance. Everything went as per the precise timeline decided by the PML-N. According to it, the clause prohibiting a disqualified politician to hold a party office was revoked through the parliament; the party constitution was amended accordingly; and the following day he was chosen for the berth.
Another message is that a popular politician of his stature can’t be wished away as desired, dreamed and decided by others, and no minus-Nawaz Sharif formula will be allowed to be translated into reality in the PML-N’s case. He told all and sundry that he was the party boss and the PML-N was at his beck and call.
The anguish and agony that his reelection caused to his tormentors was amply evident from the reactions of their voluntary, unannounced spokesmen. They are crying hoarse over the development and asserting that democracy has been buried and a challenge has been thrown to the Supreme Court’s ruling.
Rivals say that Nawaz Sharif is taking his last breathes and is close to political extinction. They think he is making futile bids to remain alive politically. They believe he has misconception that he is popular and will stage a comeback. But, according to his rivals, these are only dreams of Nawaz Sharif.
In reality, the apex court did what it deemed proper in its wisdom – disqualified Nawaz Sharif as the prime minister and a member of the National Assembly for not declaring in his nomination papers for the 2013 general elections his unwithdrawn salary from his son’s Dubai-based company. The decision was quickly implemented in letter and spirit as he relinquished his office moments after the judgment.
The verdict did not bar the parliament nor could it do to enact a law allowing a person declared ineligible by it to contest for any public office. The parliament, being the voice of the political sovereigns, exercised its inherent right to legislate and it can’t be forbidden from doing so. Only after the law was enacted as required by the Constitution, Nawaz Sharif got the office of the PML-N president.
Buoyed up by Nawaz Sharif’s ouster by the apex court through its judgment in the Panama case, everyone is rushing to the superior judiciary to get the clause, permitting his election, undone. The act of any parliamentarian knocking at the door in this regard is obviously unethical and immoral and will be a great disregard to the will of the legislature because all of them miserably failed to block the law when it was discussed and passed. However, if some non-parliamentary party challenges the law, it is a different story as it has no stake in the parliament and is doing so just to bring disrepute to it.
Yet another message that Nawaz Sharif gave by getting himself elected is that he is poised to fight back and will not relent or bow even while facing heavy odds. The tone and tenor he repeated during his speech to the party’s federal council was absolutely akin to the line he had adopted during his four-day GT Road travel in a cavalcade immediately after his disqualification.
He recalled that the twelve questions he raised during his address to the lawyers’ convention continue to be unanswered by those at whom they were directed, but didn’t get a single reply. “In the past the doctrine of necessity was introduced (to legitimize martial law) and the Iqama was used to oust me. Pakistan can’t go ahead because of what has been happening over the past seventy years. Those who violated constitutional oath remained sadiq and amen. No action committed during dictatorial rule was taken notice of under Article 184 (3) of the constitution. I wish a doctrine of necessity was also created for respect of people’s mandate and democracy.”
Nawaz Sharif did not hide his anger over the treatment he has been meted out. He minced no words to ventilate it. “I will indulge in hypocrisy if I don’t say I am not annoyed,” he stated. Anybody in his place would not come out with a different response. He was pushed to the wall and he had to react otherwise he would be dubbed as timid.