Terming his disqualification from the National Assembly and Prime Minister’s post as a “joke”, Nawaz Sharif on Thursday exuded confidence that he will return as Pakistan PM for the fourth time.
A five-member Supreme Court bench last month disqualified Sharif for dishonesty and ruled that corruption cases be filed against him and his children over the Panama Papers scandal, forcing the prime minister to quit for the record third time.
Addressing a huge gathering in Gujarat on the third day of his journey from Islamabad to Lahore via the Grand Trunk (GT) Road to display his political might, Sharif said even the judges who disqualified him failed to point out a single example of corruption against him.
“Should this even be called a disqualification? I will be made prime minister by the masses again tomorrow,” he told a cheering crowd.
“They have only removed me on paper but they have not removed me from your hearts. Is this removing me at all?” Sharif asked.
He asked people to stand by him to make sure that their vote is respected.
“I cannot accept this joke. Can you accept this joke that you elect someone, then he is disgraced and ousted,” he said. “May I ask why I was ousted? Did I commit any kind of corruption? I am innocent and did not commit any financial wrong. That has been said by the judges who disqualified me. Then why I have been ousted,” the 67-year-old veteran politician said.
Sharif said the people’s vote had been trampled upon as millions of people elected a leader and a couple of people or five judges disgraced and sent him home. He said it was for the people of Gujranwala to “think that removal was just”.
Sharif, who could not complete his term for a third time, also asked the gathering, “Should I sit back and accept the verdict or fight the injustice?”
The people responded in unison with a big ‘No’, prompting Sharif to ask them to stand by him.
“If you do not want me to sit back then you would have to stand by me. Then stand by me to change the fate of this nation. Promise me that you would do what I tell you,” he said.
Sharif said the time had come to change the country.
“We would have to make sure that your vote is respected. It is a question of respect for vote of 20 crore people. I would not allow anyone to trample your right to elect leaders of choice,” Sharif said.
He also announced that he would announce his future plan of action and asked his supporters to wait for it. Sharif stepped down after being disqualified by the Supreme Court on July 28 and after staying in Murree and Islamabad, embarked on road journey to his home in Lahore in the company of thousands of his supporters. He was greeted by supporters lining up on the both sides of road as he came out of the Punjab House in Islamabad on Wednesday, making it impossible for his motorcade to move. He covered about 30 km in 12 hours to reach Rawalpindi where he addressed a big rally.
Yesterday, he resumed his travel from Rawalpindi and reached Jhelum in the evening and addressed an even bigger rally there.
Later, he rested at a scenic hotel on the banks of the River Jhelum.
He left Jhelum at around 12 PM and stopped in Gujarat for Friday prayers and addressed his supporters. He has left for Gujranwala and will cross small towns of Wairabad, Gakhar Mandi etc. He is expected to halt briefly at some places to address his supporters.
According to the scheduled of Pakistan Muslim League- Nawaz (PML-N), Sharif is expected to spend the night in Gujranwala. He would leave for Lahore in the morning and is expected to reach there at 4 PM today.