Islamabad, Oct 3 (IANS) Ousted Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif made a comeback on Tuesday as head of Pakistan’s ruling PML-N through a controversial legal reform, more than two months after he was disqualified from holding office by the country’s apex court on charges of corruption in the Panama Papers case.
He was elected unopposed a day after the National Assembly dropped a clause from the “Election Act 2017” which prohibited disqualified Members of Parliament from becoming leaders of political parties.
The Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz used its majority in Parliament to pass the reform amid protests from opposition members who tore copies of the bill and said they will challenge the reform in court, Dawn online reported.
Sharif’s party later amended its constitution to implement the new law immediately.
The country’s Supreme Court had disqualified Sharif on July 28 for not declaring income from an overseas company owned by his son.
“I have been removed from power repeatedly but you keep bringing me back,” Sharif told his cheering supporters at the Convention Centre in Islamabad after being re-elected as PML-N chief.
“I love you too,” the three-time Prime Minister said in response to raucous chants of “I love you” by his supporters.
Sharif also accused the Supreme Court of subverting the will of the Pakistani people. “If there was nothing in the Panama (Papers) then people should have been told this… that Nawaz Sharif did not misuse any public funds.”
“Despite being elected by the people thrice, I was disqualified. Not because of any corruption or malpractice but for not taking a salary from my son,” said the ousted premier.
“I believe the only way to consolidate democracy is to respect the mandate given by the people,” he said. “The use of the law to change the mandate of people must end.”
Sharif promised his supporters that his party will fare even better in the 2018 elections, adding that the people will give their decision regarding (his) “eligibility” then.
Earlier in the morning, PML-N leader Dr Tariq Fazal Chaudhry submitted Sharif’s papers for party President in the Election Commission while none other candidate from the party contested the election.
The formal announcement was made at the party’s General Council meeting here by the PML-N’s chief election commissioner Chaudhry Jaffar Iqbal.
The meeting was attended by all senior PML-N leaders including Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif and Finance Minister Ishaq Dar.
Addressing the crowd, Abbasi termed the occasion as a “historic day”. The Premier said he was proud to be among the few people who witnessed the moment Sharif took his place as party Chairman for the first time.
Abbasi presented an “open challenge to all the dictators and PPP” to compare the development work carried out by them with that of the PML-N.
Sharif, his children — Hassan, Hussain, Maryam — and son-in-law Captain Safdar are facing investigations related to ownership of properties in London and the firms Azizia Steel as well as another 16 offshore companies.
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