Saturday, 23 September 2017

PML-N to challenge JIT report in SC

nawaz s

ISLAMABAD: With the mounting pressure on the prime minister to step down in the light of the joint investigation team’s findings, the ruling PML-N yesterday decided not to bow to the pressure and fight the case on legal and political fronts.

In a third consultative meeting in less than 24 hours, the prime minister was given a detailed briefing by his legal team about the possible outcome and the position the party could take in the given situation.

Sources in PML-N confirmed the option of the prime minister’s stepping down also came under discussion, but the party leaders opposed it in the face of the opposition parties’ pressure which they said would be tantamount to their weakness.

Attorney General Ashtar Ausaf and other legal and constitutional experts briefed the meeting which was also attended by key federal ministers, including Khawaja Asif, Ishaq Dar, Saad Rafique, Ahsan Iqbal, Shahid Khaqan Abbassi, Dr Asif Kirmani and others. All the participants of the meeting opposed the prime minister’s resignation and agreed to fight the case in the court of law.

The sources in the party disclosed it was decided that the legal team would point out contradictions in the JIT’s report in the Supreme Court of Pakistan and get it scrapped.

It was further decided that the party leaders would continue to counter the opposition’s propaganda against the government, particularly against the prime minister and his family members, to keep the party’s vote bank intact.

The sources revealed the party leaders were divided over aggressive strategy as some of the senior leaders opposed taking the things to the point of no return and suggested focus on the legal defence of the case in the Supreme Court.

The party leaders with hawkish tendency, however, wanted to go tough on the JIT and the whole legal course. They opined to take the matter to the people, but saner elements in the party were still of the view that the party’s protest should remain within the legal and constitutional ambit to avoid pushing the things to the level of deadlock among the institutions.

The sources said the prime minister’s legal team would be preparing the case to refute the findings of the JIT as biased and baseless and would make the apex court realise that the prime minister and his family members were being victimised.

They disclosed that in the light of the suggestions that had come from various quarters, it was unanimously decided the prime minister would not dissolve the assemblies to seek fresh public mandate in the given circumstances nor would he step down until the final verdict in the Panama Papers case.

The legal team was directed to prepare a case against what they termed frivolous, flimsy and biased findings of the JIT against the Sharif family.

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