The ruling Pakistan Muslim League – Nawaz (PML-N) leadership may have
announced launching the “movement for justice” but the party rank and
file are clueless about related modalities.
So far, neither PML-N chief Nawaz Sharif nor any of his associates have unveiled the specifics about the movement, which the former prime minister announced to launch last week in Lahore.
Some PML-N circles believe that Sharif’s announcement to launch the movement against the judiciary would prove to be no more than a political statement because of its controversial nature and the internal unease the party leadership faces over the issue.
Behind-the-scenes discussions with senior party leaders suggest that Sharif discussed the issue with senior party leadership, including Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif, and party chairman Raja Zafarul Haq, but he was advised that launching the controversial campaign, at a time when the ruling party was facing multifaceted challenges, would end up harming the party’s standing.
Political parties like the Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf (PTI) of Imran Khan and Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) of Bilawal Bhutto have already announced that they are ready to resist the government’s move should it proceed with “defaming” the judiciary.
“You don’t launch agitation(s) when you are the government” is the reported view of seasoned PML-N party leaders. “Agitation is an instrument of the opposition, not the government.”
The sources said that the party command has adopted a wait-and-see approach.
“There has been no headway,” commented a PML-N lawmaker from Punjab regarding the PML-N’s plan to launch the movement.
“It’s better to stay silent instead of inviting unnecessary trouble,” the lawmaker said on the condition of anonymity.
The source said that the party leadership fears the lack of public participation in the campaign.
“It is so unbecoming of a ruling party to act like an opposition. What justification do we have to get in a confrontational mode in the name of seeking justice when we are in power at the Centre, in Punjab, Baluchistan, Pakistan-administered Kashmir, and Gilgit-Baltistan?” he asked.
In this context, the sources said, there is a feeling in the party that Sharif’s statement regarding launching the movement for justice would more or less meet a similar fate to that of his announcement regarding a controversial religious clause change.
Not long ago, Sharif had announced forming a committee under the chair of Zafarul Haq with the directions to share its report “within 24 hours” regarding a sudden change in the text of an election law related to religious beliefs.
The report is still awaited despite the passage of more than two months.
“Some statements are better kept from implementation. Or else, there are repercussions,” a party senator said, requesting anonymity.
Punjab’s Law Minister Rana Sanaullah, however, denied that the Punjab chief minister had advised the former prime minister against launching the movement for justice.
“It is the political, democratic and fundamental right of PML-N or any other political party to launch any movement while staying within the parameters of constitution and rule of law,” he said when contacted.
He said that the movement for justice is being “mistaken as an anti-judiciary campaign, which it is not”.
Sanaullah said that the movement would highlight the provision of “merit-based” and speedy justice for all without discrimination. “There should be no pick and choose policy in dissemination of justice.”
He said that the party leadership has been holding meetings on the modalities of the movement in Lahore, adding that a detailed strategy would be finalised.
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