ABBOTTABAD: Former prime minister Nawaz Sharif said on Sunday that he has brought his review petition [in the Panama Papers case] to the people today.
Addressing a public gathering of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) at the Abbottabad college ground, the party chief said, “you have to decide my appeal. Give a decision that echoes far and wide”.
The PML-N president said he is not scared of jail or death.
“You have to promise, we will march together towards our destination. Don’t sit at home, we will walk together and change Pakistan’s destiny,” he told the crowd.
Referring to “those who talk about minus Nawaz Sharif,” the former premier said, “they don’t know today that Nawaz is the name of an ideology. All of you are this ideology. This ideology will bring a revolutionary change in the country”.
The disqualified prime minister then recalled what he termed the “Panama Tamasha [circus]”, saying a petition which was dismissed earlier was later admitted and he and his family were dragged through the courts.
He then referred to the “WhatsApp Tamasha“, “from which rare diamonds were sought and a JIT made in front of which we all were summoned.”
Nawaz said one day the JIT’s story will be uncovered before the world, adding that they toured the world but didn’t find any iota of corruption against him.
“And when all failed, they said you didn’t take a salary from your son, so you are disqualified,” he asserted.
However, he said he didn’t delay implementing the [Supreme Court] order. Addressing the crowd, Nawaz asked if 4-5 people can overturn the decision of 200 million people? “You will have to support Nawaz Sharif,” he stated, saying the people of Pakistan are his courts.
Rejection of review petition by SC
Talking about the Panama case review petition, which the Supreme Court recently rejected, Nawaz said they [court] raised a question ‘why caravans are looted’.
He was referring to Justice Ejaz Afzal Khan’s observation in the review judgment with the Urdu couplet: Idhar udhar ki na baat kar, yeh bata keh qafla kyon luta. Mujhe rahzanoon se gila nahin teri rehbari ka sawal hai (Don’t beat about the bush, explain why the caravan was robbed. I have no grudge with the dacoits, but doubt your leadership).
“We are aware, people are aware, that you never complained to the dacoit. What to talk about complaints you didn’t even ask them any questions or bring them to book. Did you bring [Gen (retd) Pervez] Musharraf to book? Instead, you gave them a way in and read their oath of allegiance,” said Nawaz, referring to the reported approval of military coups by the judiciary in the country history.
“We are not deaf and dumb, are watching what’s going on, and will hold everything accountable,” he said further.
‘Sanctity of vote’
Talking about Pakhtunkhwa Milli Awami Party chief Mahmood Khan Achakzai, who addressed the rally before him, Nawaz said Achakzai “is our ideological partner and a true Pakistani”.
“Nawaz Sharif is the name of an ideology,” said the former premier.
Concluding his speech, the PML-N chief said, “God willing, Nawaz Sharif will come to you for the 2018 elections. Will make new promises then as you know I always keep my word.”
He added that Pakistan’s destiny is democratic and you [the people] have to set free the sanctity of vote.
Recalling his GT Road Rally following his disqualification, Nawaz said that too was a referendum by the people.
PTI in the dock
Referring to the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf-led Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government, he said instead of ending corruption in 90 days like they promised in the elections, they’ve increased corruption.
“You didn’t produce a single kilowatt of electricity,” alleged the PML-N chief. “They said we’ll plant a billion trees but instead they syphoned of a billion rupees. You will have to pay. Shame on you for blaming others,” he stated.
After starting his speech, Nawaz said he is remembering 2013 today as he sees the same passion in the people of Abbottabad.
Several party leaders and allies were alongside the former premier on the stage and addressed the crowd before Nawaz.
Sharif, who was in Lahore, reached Islamabad earlier on Sunday from where he departed for Murree. He briefly rested at his house in Murree and then departed for Abbottabad.
At the Islamabad airport, the former premier held a meeting with Achakzai. The two discussed the ongoing political situation in the country, according to sources.
Earlier, preparations were completed for the rally — the former premier’s first since his indictment by an accountability court hearing corruption cases against him.
Organisers said around 10,000 chairs were set up for the rally.
The former premier, departed from Murree and via Nathiagali and Ayubia, reached Abbottabad.
Party officials said local leaders of the PML-N from Havelian, Mansehra and surrounding areas arrived in caravans along with their supporters.
Visiting the site of the rally earlier, Senators Pervaiz Rasheed and Asif Kirmani monitored the arrangements at the venue.
Talking to the organisers and party supporters, Kirmani said the rally will set an example in the country’s political history. Rasheed said the lion [PML-N’s electoral symbol] will force its opponents to run away in the next elections, adding that “Nawaz Sharif is Pakistan’s asset”.
Provincial party leaders Sardar Mehtab Abbasi and Ameer Muqam also visited the venue.
Talking to the media later, Kirmani said the polls will be held on time, adding that there’s no reason to have early elections — a key demand of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI).
Rasheed said PTI chief Imran Khan is scared to face the PML-N in the 2018 polls and thus wants early elections. “Those whose own party is being dissolved want the Parliament to be dissolved,” he said, referring to the PTI.
In his brief media talk, Abbasi, who hails from the area and was governor of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, said the people are upset and agnry with Nawaz’s disqualification on weak grounds.
Nawaz had launched a public mobilisation drive after his disqualification by the Supreme Court on July 28, reaching Lahore via GT Road after making stopovers in various towns and cities.
Sources said the former premier is attempting to revive that campaign with the Abbottabad rally serving as the first stop.
Nawaz and his family face three corruption references filed by the National Accountability Bureau.