Will three-time former PM ever get justice?


It was a slightly cold afternoon on February 12, 2023, when a legion of journalists sat with Maryam Nawaz, now the chief minister of Punjab, at the residence of the then information minister Marriyum Aurangzeb located in Islamabad’s ministers enclave.

Back then, Maryam had regretted that the PML-N and government had not fought the case of her father – party supremo Nawaz Sharif — the way they should have.

She had maintained that neither any narrative was built, nor a law drafted for this purpose — something she described as a “weakness”.

However, she had deflected a question if the judges or generals could be prosecuted or court-martialed.

Fast forward a year and a few months from then, Nawaz’s brother is the prime minister of the country and his daughter the Punjab chief minister.

His party is in power both in the Centre and Punjab.

The PML-N supremo himself ruled the country thrice.

He, along with his party, takes pride in the fact that he appointed many people to key positions.

Yet, he keeps on complaining that he was wronged many times in the past and has not been delivered justice yet.

Sometimes, he accuses the judges and on other occasions, the generals. At times, he assails them both. However, the question, which has not been answered yet, is that what kind of justice is he is looking for and who can actually deliver that — above all, what steps will his party take now to ensure that.

During his self-imposed exile, he kept pointing finger at the judges and the generals, demanding accountability. And then as usual, he went into hibernation mode.

Soon after returning to Pakistan, he acquired relief from courts and was on his way to become the premier for the fourth time before the tables suddenly turned and his brother became the prime minister for the second time.

Nawaz’s track record shows that neither is he a common man, nor the general rules always apply to him  — in fact he has earned the reputation of a ‘prison breaker’ or as BBC puts it: “king of comebacks”.

Yet, the pangs of pain for being ousted by judges and generals thrice not only keep him unhappy but make him question the whole system.

Since no major step has so far been taken to address his woes, a disheartened and beleaguered Nawaz poured his heart out once again before the PML-N members on May 18, just 10 days before he is set to take the reins of his party once again — on the day when he made the decision to make the country an atomic power.

Overall, NUML University’s Professor Tahir Naeem Malik said Nawaz pointed towards a structure where premiers were kept sent packing even after a charter of democracy was signed and the president surrendered his powers to dissolve assemblies under Article 58 2(b).

Under the new model, PPP’s Yousuf Raza Gilani, Nawaz himself and PTI founding chairman Imran Khan were ousted, Prof Malik added.

“Article 582(b) was scrapped from the Constitution yet the sword of disqualification still hangs on the politicians, especially the prime ministers,” Prof Malik noted, adding that Nawaz had not given any solution for that.

However, Prof Malik recalled that Nawaz had always supported the ouster of other premiers as well as disqualification through courts whether it was Gilani or Imran, saying that it was evident in his past speeches and statements.

“He [Nawaz] talks about civilian supremacy and urges to end contradictions in the political system but has never provided any way forward for achieving those objectives.”

Besides, the Prof Malik observed that Nawaz kept on complaining about why he was ousted [Mujhay Kyun Nikala] and why he was wronged instead of presenting it the other way around that sending a premier home with a single stroke of pen affected the constitutional and democratic rights of the people who had elected them.

“He highlights only his own case without regretting his previous stance on other’s ousters and presenting a way forward.”

Political expert Majid Nizami said Nawaz wanted that the State should readdress the alleged wrongs it had committed.

“His addressee is the establishment but he usually calls out the judiciary to express his grievances,” he added.

“In the current political scenario, Nawaz or his party can’t even think about making any powerful person stand trial,” the expert said, noting that the space for politicians had already shrunk for the past several years.

“He [Nawaz] will keep on expressing his anger and agony in news conferences and rallies but to book the culprits in the cases, make them stand trial and sentence them doesn’t seem to be possible in the current circumstances.”

Nizami observed that Nawaz had complaints against the current and previous security establishments.

He added that the previous one had allegedly helped the judiciary to oust him but the current one did not address the issue.

“Therefore, Mian Nawaz Sharif is in the assembly without the portfolio of the prime minister.”

He added that the previous security establishment might have done something wrong with him but the current one had not helped him secure the PM’s slot.

Despite the PML-N supremo’s complaints and demands for accountability, it seems that the silence from his party and the habit of deflecting the questions of how it can actually make the powerful stand trial, like it did in Gen (retd) Pervez Musharraf’s case, will not lead to anything that he desires — showing that the “weakness” that Maryam had detected has not been addressed yet.

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