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Nawaz’s mixed bag

The political noose that hangs around Nawaz Sharif’s neck is still in place. He will remain right where he is: in jail. And there he will stay until after this month’s elections; when the Islamabad High Court (IHC) will resume hearings. The PMLN supremo had hoped that the latter would accept his request to have corruption proceedings suspended until his appeal is decided. Thereby effectively granting him the opportunity of bail. This has not happened.
Naturally this robs the party of a much needed morale boost. Especially given that the Punjab police have registered cases against at least 198 PMLN workers over their taking to the streets of Lahore last week to receive the former Prime Minister. Charges include “hate speech” against the law enforcement agents who thwarted their progress in a bid to maintain law and order. Then there is the not un-small matter of how the same provincial police force have opened criminal cases against some 17,000 party members over allegations of violating election rules. Though there has been no clarification as to what these might be.
To most observers, this represents a clear-cut case of Noon leaguers being actively persecuted for the “sins of the father”; though the latter has already been disqualified from holding public office for life. Be that as it may, it is not all bad news for the elder Sharif. Or, perhaps, better put, the thrice-elected premier faces a mixed bag of sorts in terms of what awaits him.
Much had been made of the fact that Nawaz and his family would not be allowed an open trial. Meaning that orders had been issued to conduct hearings from within the premises of the central jail. Yet in a welcome development the interim cabinet reversed this decision. Not only that, but Prime Minister Mulk is reportedly willing to review last Friday’s ‘anti-PMLN crackdown’. It is expected that intelligence officers will also be present in forthcoming meetings towards this end. In addition, complaints lodged by the younger Sharif regarding the poor prison conditions that Nawaz is currently enduring — including lack of medical supervision to control diabetes — will also likely be on the agenda.
Elsewhere, the former premier received some welcome news from the National Accountability Bureau (NAB). His counsel had filed a petition seeking transfer of the two pending references in the Avenfield judgement before a different accountability judge. The contention being that since the latter had already issued a verdict in one reference — he could not, in the interest of fairness, do the same going forward.



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