Deal rumours rife as Sharifs shy away from official denial


–Legal wizards say deal can be sealed once legal options are exhausted

ISLAMABAD: Debate about an underhand deal allegedly being negotiated between the Sharif family and Prime Minister Imran Khan for a safe exit to former prime minister Nawaz Sharif on Sunday took another twist as former defence minister Khawaja Mohammad Asif dropped a hint of indirect contact between the two parties.
However, legal wizards opine that it was premature for a deal between the two parties as the Sharif family would have to exhaust all its legal option before seeking a pardon from the federal government.
Several attempts made by Pakistan Today to get an official contradiction from Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) Information Secretary Marriyum Aurangzeb failed as no response was received.
Adding more fuel to the fury, former defence minister and PML-N senior leader Khawaja Asif on Sunday dropped a hint at an informal contact made to the prime minister by a ‘non-political relative’ of Sharif without his knowledge.
Responding to a claim made by journalist Hamid Mir, Asif – who is considered very close to the Sharifs – took to Twitter to claim that if any ‘non-political member’ of Sharif family had contacted the prime minister then Nawaz was ignorant about the issue.
However, Asif said that there was no contact from a ‘political relative’ of Sharif with Premier Khan as claimed by Hamid Mir.
“Hamid Mir did not say that Sharif family contacted [Imran Khan for pardon] and this is the truth. We will get justice from the court, God willing. If according to Mir sahib, any member of Sharif family has tried to contact [PM Imran] in his personal capacity [with such a request], then it is without consent of the former premier and he is totally ignorant of it,” wrote Asif, making an implied admission of the contact in a tactful manner.
It merits mention here that news anchor Hamid Mir had claimed at a TV show that a close relative of Nawaz had contacted PM Imran, seeking pardon for Sharif and that he has seen evidence related to the request.
“Very close non-political relatives of Nawaz have directly contacted PM Imran and requested for a pardon for him,” Hamid Mir claimed.
Interestingly, any member of the Sharif family, including twitter-savvy Maryam Nawaz, did not contradict the claim made by Hamid Mir.
The story was broken by veteran journalist, senior analyst and Pakistan Today Editor Arif Nizami a few days ago. He had said that a deal was being negotiated between Sharifs and the federal government. Quoting a senior leader of the PML-N, Arif Nizami had said that Nawaz was trying to strike an underhand deal with the government and Shehbaz Sharif had played a key role in winning relief for Nawaz.
“A senior PML-N leader has told me that Nawaz stays away from all PML-N leaders these days and his other close relatives are also conspicuous by their absence from social media. Moreover, an offer of Maulana Fazlur Rehman for a joint struggle against the federal government was turned down. There is something that meets the eye,” Arif Nizami had said. He had also added that sooner or later Nawaz would leave for London in the guise of medical treatment where his younger brother, Shehbaz Sharif, is also present without any serious business these days.
However, legal wizards say it is too early for the Sharif family to seek a pardon from the federal government which under the law could only be allowed once Sharif family exhausts its options of moving applications with Islamabad High Court (IHC) and then moving to Supreme Court (SC) seeking relief for Nawaz.
Talking to Pakistan Today, senior jurist Kamran Murtaza said that under the law, President Dr Arif Alvi could approve pardon to Nawaz. However, he said that for moving an application to the president, first, the Sharifs would have to exhaust their legal options.
“PM Imran cannot pardon any accused but he can recommend the president to do so. Since Dr Alvi, like his predecessor Mamnoon Hussain, would follow the directions of the premier, Imran Khan is the right man to ask for the favour,” he said.
Commenting over Khawaja Asif’s tweet, Kamran Murtaza said that it was an implied admission of the fact that Premier Khan had been approached by Sharif family.
“Under the law, if a deal is sealed, Sharifs would have to withdraw their applications with the IHC and then they would have to file a pardon. PM can recommend it to the president,” he added.
PTI senior leader Advocate Hamid Khan said that a pardon could be sought as it is an executive privilege of the president.
However, he said that neither PM Imran nor Sharif family is not in a position to strike the deal.
“We in the party would put pressure on our leadership that first Sharifs should exhaust legal options and then we can discuss a pardon. It should be done when all legal provisions are exhausted,” he concluded.