ISLAMABAD - He was satisfied, confident and relaxed when he turned back to his seat after recording the statement before Accountability Court Judge Muhammad Bashir on Wednesday.

Nawaz Sharif, a 68-year-old politician, who served the country thrice as the prime minister had just ended reading out his six-page statement in response to the court query that why the Avenfield reference had been filed against him.

Without going into a debate of good versus bad, it is a matter of record that Sharif along with his daughter Maryam Nawaz, attended dozens of hearing in the accountability court. And this week, he remained standing before the judge for almost 12 hours – on three consecutive days from Monday to Wednesday.

While noticing Sharif coming back towards his chair, which is usually placed in the middle of a three-seater in the first left row in the courtroom, an old lady named Senator Najma Hameed quickly vacated the same, where she was sitting alongside Maryam Nawaz during the time the former premier stood up before the judge.

However, Sharif while showing traditional courtesy asked Miss Najma to remain seated with Maryam and he himself sat on the next seat in the row.

“Najma Aunti, look, Mian Sab offers his chair to you”, Maryam said to the senator, who replied: “May God ever bless Nawaz Sharif with the chair [of leadership]”. With tearful eyes, she whispered: “People who did not respect Nawaz Sharif are the enemies of Pakistan.”

As soon Sharif held the chair, several party leaders and reporters present inside the courtroom gathered around the supreme leader of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz. Party leaders were praising the stance taken by the former primer before the court, especially his criticism of the military dictatorship.

A journalist asked Nawaz that “your critics say whenever you came to power, you went into a conflict with the military establishment. The PML-N leader kept mum but Senator Chaudhry Tanveer interrupted and told the journalist: “Give me a single name [of a prime minister] that was comfortable with the military establishment.”

The senator, whose house is being used for party meetings now-a-days, while sharing his thoughts with this scribe said that “it is happening for the first time in the history [of Pakistan] that a political leader is openly addressing topics which were untouchable in the past”.

When asked about the possible outcome of the ongoing tussle, the senator concluded: “Nobody had experienced such a situation earlier, so we can talk on probabilities but cannot say anything confidently.”

Though the party leaders attend court hearings to show solidarity with their leader, Wednesday was an exception as there was a greater number of leaders who had come to attend the proceedings. They included federal ministers, MNAs, senators and party office-bearers.

MNA Mian Javed Latif and some other party leaders were asking every journalist coming inside the court “whether or not the electronic media is running the statements of Nawaz Sharif” and their happiness upon getting an affirmative response could be easily seen on their faces.

It was decided earlier that Sharif will read out his statement live in front of the media outside the accountability court but later State Minister for Interior Talal Chaudhry informed the former premier that a press conference in this regard had been arranged at Punjab House - without telling journalists the reason for changing the venue.

 

 

Three-time premier’s 12 hours ‘stand-up’

MUHAMMAD ASAD CHAUDHRY