Islamabad, Oct 3: Nawaz Sharif was re-elected as the president of the ruling PML-N, allowing the ousted Pakistan prime minister to stage a political comeback with "full force".
Sharif soon after his re-election as the chief of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) demanded that those who disqualified him should respect the people's mandate and democracy. Sharif, 67, had to step down as PML-N chief after he was disqualified as the prime minister by the Supreme Court on July 28 in the Panama Papers scandal.
Addressing a gathering of party members at the Convention Centre here, Sharif said his supporters kept reelecting him to power despite his ousters from the office. He said the party members knew the reasons behind his disqualification as prime minister.
The PML-N yesterday took full advantage of its position as the ruling party as President Mamnoon Hussain signed the controversial Election Act 2017 into law hours after it was bulldozed through the National Assembly amid pandemonium on the opposition benches, the Dawn reported. Under The Representation of Peoples Act 1976, a disqualified person could not hold office of a party. The law was passed to allow the party to re-elect Sharif as its head, on the eve of a party convention called for the express purpose of electing Sharif to the post.
Sharif in his address to his supporters, thanked the people for repealing the law which barred disqualified politicians from holding office in a party. He said former president Gen (retd) Pervez Musharraf had reinstated this law after Ayub khan first introduced it. "I would like to thank the people for throwing this law back at their faces," he said.
Sharif said he had been disqualified for "not receiving salary from his son", but the violation of the Constitution by four dictators during the country's history was declared legal. "When no justification was found for their unconstitutional steps, the Doctrine of Necessity was invented," he said, adding that he wishes a doctrine of necessity was also created for respect of people's mandate and democracy. "I am warning you today, if we do not try to change the situation, Pakistan will not forgive us." Sharif applauded the political parties for adopting the Election Reforms bills. "I congratulate that youre bringing Nawaz Sharif back with full force," he said.
Sharif said he has proposed a grand national dialogue to focus on restoring the people's mandate as "only those should govern who the people vote for." "The people will decide through their vote [in general elections of 2018] who is qualified and who is unqualified," he said. Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi termed Sharif's return as party president a "historic day". The premier said he is proud to be among the few people who witnessed the moment Sharif took his place as the party chairman for the first time.
Earlier, PML-N leader Dr Tariq Fazal Chaudhry submitted Sharif's papers for party president in the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) while no one other candidate from the party contested the election. Minister of State Talal Chaudhry told the media that Sharif will remain chief of PML-N. "He will also become Prime Minister of the country.
Sharif cannot be removed from politics through conspiracies, he said. The election of party president is a requirement by Election Commission of Pakistan that already last month issued notice to PML-N for failing to choose permanent successor of Sharif.
Sharif's election has temporarily healed the rifts within the party which appeared on the verge of defections after his ouster. But Sharifs fate as party president still hangs in balance as Pakistan Awami Tehreek party has challenged the new law in the Lahore High Court, while Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf and other parties have announced to challenge it in the Supreme Court. Opposition parties allege that the new law was "Sharif- specific" to allow him to return to politics. They also content that the law is against the spirit of the Constitution.