Nawaz Sharif declares complete support for long march
Nawaz Sharif declares complete support for long march Nawaz Sharif declares complete support for long march Nawaz Sharif declares complete support for long march

PUBLISHED 7/14/2017
ISLAMABAD, Jan 27: Calling for immediate reinstatement of judges sacked by former president Pervez Musharraf, Pakistan Muslim League-N chief Mian Nawaz Sharif announced on Tuesday his party would actively participate in the lawyers’ long march, scheduled for March 9.

Speaking at a press conference after presiding over a joint meeting of PML-N’s parliamentary party and central working committee, he said that only an independent judiciary could steer the country out of crisis.

“The government should restore all deposed judges.”

Political analysts see the announcement as beginning of a confrontation between the Pakistan People’s Party and PML-N. They believe that the announcement of supporting the lawyers’ campaign was an indirect response to President Asif Ali Zardari’s advice to PML-N to dissociate itself from the movement.

“It’s a national cause and we could not give it up at any cost,” Mr Sharif said. He, however, said he did not want confrontation with the government.

“The lawyers’ campaign is just and I appeal to the public to come to the streets in March to support it,” he said.

Asked if his party would stage a sit-in outside parliament at the end of the long march, Mr Sharif said: “We have not decided it as yet.”

Informed sources said there was a division in the party over the issue.

Mr Sharif urged President Zardari to “honour his commitments and deliver on his promises”, including reinstatement of judges and implementation of the Charter of Democracy signed by the PPP and PML-N in 2006.

“We don’t want anything from Mr Zardari or his government. We just want rights of the people to be restored so that we can move forward as an independent nation,” he said.

The PML-N quit the PPP-led ruling coalition in August last year after accusing Mr Zardari of reneging on several promises, including one on restoring the deposed judges. The two parties are “uneasy allies” in the PML-N-led coalition government in Punjab.The PPP, which had reappointed some of the deposed judges, has given no indication that former Supreme Court chief justice Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry will be reinstated.

Mr Sharif said the Constitution had always been violated by dictators to serve their own agenda. “The creation of Pakistan was not meant to give indemnity to dictators and martial laws,” he said acidly.

Mr Sharif called for repeal of the 17th Amendment. His party has already tabled a bill in parliament for the purpose.

In reply to a question, the PML-N leader said he and Ms Benazir Bhutto had discussed the Charter of Democracy in Jeddah and there was unanimity of views on restoration of the judiciary, supremacy of the Constitution and strengthening of democracy.

He also said his party was demanding the repeal of a constitutional amendment that gave the president power to dissolve the National Assembly and bring down a democratically-elected government.

He said the implementation of the charter would close “forever” the doors to autocrats and people would be able to take decisions about their future themselves.

He said the nation had voted for change and in favour of the parties that had signed the Charter of Democracy.

“We cannot quit this struggle. We are determined to realise our dreams.”