Imran vents his spleen at judiciary over Nawaz relief


–PM pleads CJP Khosa, his successor to ‘take whatever measures necessary to restore nation’s confidence in judiciary’

–Says Sharif family could have easily given Rs7bn as surety for their return

–Lashes out at Opp, says opposition staged ‘circus on containers’ to avoid accountability, divert attention from Kashmir crisis

HAVELIAN: Visibly frustrated by the Lahore High Court’s (LHC) order to remove former prime minister Nawaz Sharif’s name from the no-fly list without him having to sign the Rs7.5 billion indemnity bond, Prime Minister Imran Khan on Monday appealed to Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Asif Saeed Khosa and his successor, Justice Gulzar Ahmed, to take whatever measures necessary to “restore the confidence of the nation in the judiciary”.

Addressing the inauguration ceremony of the Havelian-Mansehra section of the Hazara motorway, Imran maintained that the amount had been inconsequential for the Sharif family and the bond should have been signed.

“We were requested to send him abroad on humanitarian grounds,” he said, adding that the government had shown mercy even though half the cabinet had been against the decision.

“What did we ask in return? We asked for a Rs7 billion guarantee. The amount is peanuts for them. The way they have looted the country, they can easily tip someone Rs7 billion,” he said.

He said that though the government had “merely asked for a piece of paper with the guarantee on it”, the PML-N started creating “drama” on this demand.

Noting that Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) President Shehbaz Sharif had said that he would guarantee Nawaz’s return, PM Imran asked the younger Sharif, ” Your son and son-in-laws are fugitives, who will provide a guarantee for them? Both of Nawaz’s sons and Ishaq Dar are absconding; who will provide a guarantee for them. On top of all that, there are corruption cases pending against you as well: who will give your guarantee?”

Stating that the government had conceded to the verdict of the LHC, he warned Shehbaz that “the nation has understood your dramas”.

Recalling that Shehbaz had said that Imran should be responsible if something happened to Nawaz, the premier asked, “In the past 10 years, more than 800 people have died in jails, who is responsible for their deaths?”

“Has anyone ever bothered to visit their bereaved families and ask how they are surviving?” he asked.

Referring to this perceived disparity in how the powerful and the powerless are treated in Pakistan’s justice system, the prime minister pleaded that CJP Khosa and his successor Justice Gulzar should take whatever measures necessary to restore the confidence of the nation in the judiciary.

“If you need funds, we will provide them […] please restore this nation’s trust in our judicial system,” he said. “We will support you in whatever way we can,” he added.

Training his guns on the joint opposition, Imran accused them of putting on “a circus on containers” in order to escape accountability.

The prime minister said that a circus was played on the container at Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl’s (JUI-F) sit-in in Islamabad.

He said that all the opposition leaders, including Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) Chairman Bilawal Bhutto and PML-N President Shehbaz, were present there to save their corruption and wanted to divert the attention from the crucial issue of Kashmir.

“If there ever was an expert on dharnas, he is standing right here,” he said in reference to himself, before going on to mock the opposition for giving up their protest too soon.

“I had said earlier that I would have agreed to all their demands if they could last a month on those containers. The Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) protested for 126 days,” he recalled. He also criticised the JUI-F leadership for “hiding” in the comfort of their “warm rooms” while ordinary workers languished in the cold and rain.

He also expressed disappointment at the fashion in which seminary students were “brought” to the protest. Noting that the participants seemed to be unaware of any common purpose of the sit-in, he alleged that Fazl had “used” them for personal gains. He also criticised the JUI-F chief for “using religion” to make money, saying he “issues whatever fatwas you want him to if the price is right”.

“Using religion for personal benefit is the biggest sin,” he declared. “I pray that the Fazl is spared the judgement that is waiting for him in the hereafter,” he added.

The premier said that some of his cabinet members were afraid of the outcome of the sit-in but he gave them courage. “The only had an issue with me because they know that I will not forgive their corrupt practices,” he said.

“Even I could make a deal with them as former president General (r) Pervez Musharraf did to pass his four years,” he said, adding that he would not do so as he fears God and the Day of Judgement.

PM Imran blamed the past rulers who took excessive loans for the recent hike in commodity prices. “It is a clear message from my side that I will not forgive this mafia,” he said adding that he knows the masses are passing through testing times but soon it would all be over.

Speaking more broadly, he said that opposition parties had come to Islamabad to “blackmail” the government to shut pending corruption cases against their leaders.

The prime minister, however, reiterated that would not spare “a single corrupt person” in the country. “I will betray my nation if I do so,” he added.

Talking about his government’s activities, the prime minister said that improving health and education sectors are their top priorities. “We have eliminated duty on hospital equipment,” he informed and further said that all-out efforts were underway to improve the education sector in the country.

Referring to the newly constructed section of the motorway, the premier said CPEC will play a pivotal role in the development of Pakistan.

He further said the housing project started by government will facilitate forty allied industries, creating a number of employment opportunities. He added that five million houses will be constructed in five years’ tenure of the incumbent government.

“Earlier, CPEC was only a network of roads, but now it has become a project to further improve our industry and agriculture. This land is blessed with many resources, we just have to manage them better,” he added and further said that the focus will not be on investing in human capital.