Aggressive Sharif attacks judges for ousting him

Islamabad: An aggressive Nawaz Sharif, leading a mammoth rally from Islamabad to his hometown Lahore, on Thursday launched a scathing attack on the Supreme Court for ousting him as Pakistan’s Prime Minister.

Sharif spewed fire as he addressed large groups of supporters gathered on the rally route. But he insisted he was not greedy for power and wanted to change Pakistan for the better.

“I have not come here to ask you to make me Prime Minister again. I don’t want power. Neither am I greedy for power… I have self-respect,” the veteran leader told his cheering supporters after reaching Jhelum, a major city along the Grand Trunk Road.

The media quoted Sharif as saying that while the people’s mandate catapulted him to power, he was ousted “in a minute”.

“Millions elect their leader and five judges disqualify him with a stroke of a pen. Can you tolerate this? Even those judges said Nawaz Sharif didn’t indulge in corruption,” he thundered and asked people to question why their leader was disqualified when he was not involved in corruption.

“People of Jhelumi should ask why was Nawaz ousted. There is no stain of corruption, my hands are clean,” said Sharif, who was disqualified on July 28 on charges of corruption linked to what has come to be known as the Panama Papers.

He wondered why the Supreme Court judges failed to hold former military dictators accountable for subverting the Constitution.

“You choose a Prime Minister but a judge or military dictator tears up your vote. This needs to change if Pakistan is to progress,” said Sharif, who in 1999 was ousted by then Army chief Pervez Musharraf.

“Dictators rule the country for 10 years but a Prime Minister cannot even complete his tenure.”

Referring to the security situation in Pakistan, Sharif said he had brought peace to Karachi and Balochistan. This helped the economy.

Sharif will stay in Jhelum overnight and resume his journey to Lahore on Friday morning. On Thursday, he began the second leg of his “homecoming rally” after leaving Rawalpindi’s Punjab House.

He began his journey on Wednesday from Islamabad. Due to the massing of supporters on the way, it took 12 hours for the rallyists to reach Rawalpindi, 20 km away.

In his Wednesday night speech in Rawalpindi, Sharif called the apex court decision to depose him a “joke” and an insult to voters.

Sharif’s convoy includes senior party leaders Amir Muqam, Abid Sher Ali, Hanif Abbasi, Marvi Memon and Zaeem Qadri.