PPP started questioning hassle free return of Nawaz Sharif

Lahore: Senior PPP leaders have started questioning the ‘understanding’ they claim he has reached with the quarters concerned to facilitate Nawaz Sharif’s ‘hassle-free’ return.

After National Assembly Speaker Raja Pervaiz Ashraf’s mentioning of “some understanding between the Sharifs and the quarters concerned” regarding the former premier’s return on Oct 21, another senior PPP leader from Punjab has lodged protest over plans to give ‘official protocol’ to a convict upon his arrival, saying he must complete his jail term before thinking of contesting the election.

“There has been no justification to give official protocol to convict Nawaz Sharif on his return to Pakistan. If he gets clean chit from courts, then this facility should also be given to others,” PPP’s Punjab general secretary Hasan Murtaza told a press conference.

Flanked by PPP’s Lahore president Aslam Gill, Mr Murtaza said Nawaz Sharif should complete his jail term upon his arrival. “He (Nawaz) should think of contesting the election only after completing his jail term,” he maintained.

Nawaz Sharif left for London in the middle of his seven-year jail term in Al-Azizia corruption case on ‘medical grounds’ in 2019 after the Lahore High Court granted him bail for ‘four-weeks’. During these four years, he was declared a proclaimed offender in Al-Azizia and Avenfield graft cases for his continuous absence from the proceedings.

The elder Sharif is currently in Saudi Arabia and he will leave for Pakistan via Dubai on Oct 21 and address a rally at Minar-i-Pakistan. His legal team is likely to apply for his protective bail next week.

Hasan Murtaza said one thing should not be forgotten that Nawaz Sharif had a “huge burden of cases” on his shoulders and he was also a convict. He also advised Nawaz Sharif and JUI-F chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman not to become spokespersons for the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) and let it do the things it had to.

Taking on the caretaker government, the PPP leader said it was doing everything except holding the general elections.

He condemned the arrest of teachers, saying the caretaker government did not have the mandate to strike down leave encashment and other benefits (of teachers).

“The prime purpose of the caretaker government is to hold elections and it is doing all other things, but ignorant of its main job.”

Indirectly targeting the PML-N, Mr Murtaza said his party reserved the right to go to court to stop development works in Punjab aimed at benefiting a “particular party”. He said the government servants were acting as “personal servants”… and this was not a level playing field and the PPP would keep pointing out such things.

On Friday, NA Speaker Raja Pervaiz Ashraf had said there must have been some kind of understanding behind the return of Nawaz Sharif.

“The return of a fugitive and court-convicted is tantamount to the murder of the law and justice, besides a big test for the country’s justice system,” a PTI spokesperson said on Saturday in a statement.

PTI’s central Punjab additional general secretary Sardar Azeemullah Khan said the elder Sharif was retuning under a “closed-room conspiracy and notorious London plan” by trampling the law and justice.

Meanwhile, the PML-N has formally applied to the district administration for permission to hold a public meeting at Minar-i-Pakistan on the return of party’s supreme leader Nawaz Sharif on October 21.

The PML-N considers the Lahore power show on Mr Sharif’s homecoming as the most important event for the party.

The Lahore district administration on Saturday held a meeting of its district intelligence committee and reviewed the law and order situation before granting the permission for the meeting.

When contacted, the deputy commissioner confirmed that the PML-N had applied and the administration was in the process of granting an NOC to the party to hold the event.