Post-mortem: Has Nawaz Sharif whipped up public support after Panama ouster?

Post-mortem: Has Nawaz Sharif whipped up public support after Panama ouster?

ISLAMABAD:Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif was ousted by the Supreme Court of Pakistan on June 28, 2017 in the Panama Papers case which put spotlight on the offshore wealth of his family.

The ICIJ first released the Panama Papers, a trove of 11.5 million leaked files obtained from the database of Panama law firm Mossack Fonseca, in 2016.

Nawaz Sharif was among 12 global leaders listed in the leaks. Although his name did not directly feature in the Panama Papers, three of his six children – Maryam Nawaz Sharif, Hasan Nawaz Sharif and Hussain Nawaz Sharif – were found to have bought luxury apartments in London using offshore firms.

The Sharif family was heading four British Virgin Islands-based offshore companies that owned four luxury flats in London’s Park Lane neighborhood, according to the leaks.

The ruling family maintains that the offshore companies were set up with money legally obtained from their investment in Qatar.

Pakistan’s Supreme Court accepted opposition’s petitions about the leaks and ordered investigations by civil and military officials to track down the source of money used to buy the London’s properties of Sharif’s children.

Weeks later, the apex court disqualified Nawaz Sharif on the basis of un-withdrawn receivables and directed the country’s anti-graft watchdog to file a corruption reference against his family’s properties.

The case is awaiting decision in an accountability court.

In a special transmission to discuss the future of Nawaz Sharif and his party, political analytics say that Sharif’s ouster doesn’t necessarily mean the end of PML-N’s politics.

Nawaz Sharif has whipped up public support in post-disqualification rallies where he repeatedly asked “mujhe kyun nikala” the party’s rallying cry.

Samaa’s anchorperson Shehzad Iqbal said that PTI had failed to seize the opportunity despite Sharif’s disqualification.

“PTI had been doing politics of ‘Go Nawaz Go’ for the last four years. But once he was gone, PTI fell short of ideas,” he said.

“Nawaz Sharif has drawn massive crowd and strengthened his narrative in the name of sanctity of votes. However, the party is in a turmoil internally. The incumbency factor will go against the PML-N.”

SAMAA’s Islamabad bureau chief said that the ongoing cross-questioning of JIT head Wajid Zia was also being used to strengthen Nawaz Sharif”s stance.

SAMAA’s Lahore bureau chief Ahmed Waleed said Nawaz Sharif’s narrative appears to be very strong at the moment. “Some MNAs who walked away from the party won’t make any difference in the elections,” he said.

PTI spokesman Fawad Chaudhry said that unlike 2013 general elections when four parties were in the race, this time it would be a one-on-one contest between the PML-N and the PTI.

“We are the only party which is in a position to field more than 240 candidates. No other party has the strength to field that many candidates,” Chaudhry said.

Speaking on the show, AML leader Sheikh Rashid said that elections would be delayed by October due to delimitations. APP/AFP