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In & Out in Pak
Sharif party turns to SC
Files contempt proceedings against top govt officials
Afzal Khan writes from Islamabad

The PML-N moved the Supreme Court on Tuesday for contempt proceedings against top government figures for deporting former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif in violation of Supreme Court ruling, amid media blitz by the government that Sharif opted the comfort of exile over jail.

Khawaja Asef, MP of Nawaz Sharif faction of the Pakistan Muslim (PML-N), and Hamza Shahbaz, son Punjab former chief minister Shahbaz Sharif, filed the contempt petition. Asef refuted government claim that the former premier volunteered to go to Jeddah and requested the court to direct the government to produce Sharif before it to reveal the truth.

The petitioners named the federation, Prime Minister, interior minister, chairmen of PIA and National Accountability Bureau (NAB), top officials of security and investigation agencies among respondents.

British parliamentarian, Lord Nazir Ahmed, who travelled with Sharif from London to Islamabad on Monday, also filed an affidavit as witness of the entire episode at the Islamabad airport till the deportation. He said Sharif was deceived by an arrest warrant and put in the plane on pretext that he was being transferred to a jail in a Pakistani city.

An official Spokesman said Nawaz Sharif was offered an opportunity to return to Saudi Arabia, in line with the terms of his agreement with the Saudi Arabian government. “A special flight then flew out of Islamabad, taking Nawaz Sharif to Saudi Arabia,” he added. Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz said Sharif was given two options, arrest or exile, before being flown to Jeddah. But both stopped short of saying the former premier actually opted for the exile.

Minister of State for information, Azim Tariq, however, was more upfront claiming Sharif chose to leave Pakistan to avoid prosecution on corruption charges. He also suggested it was up to Saudi Arabia whether Sharif could return to politics in Pakistan within the next three years.

Meanwhile, a call by the PML-N and endorsed by the All Parties Democratic Movement (APDM) to observe Tuesday as black day with protest meetings across the country against Sharif’s deportation, evoked indifferent public response with stray rallies in certain major cities. Information minister Durrani said the people have rejected policy of confrontation.

But PML-N and APDM spokesmen said the call was given in haste while top leaders were under detention. The government, however, began releasing some of the detained leaders on Tuesday and interior minister Sherpao said others would be free soon.

In a related development the legal fraternity observed complete countrywide strike in protest against Monday’s incident in Sindh High Court where more than 2000 MQM leaders thronged the premises compelling the court to postpone for week the hearing in the inquiry over May 12 carnage in Karachi. The lawyers also deplored murder of a prominent colleague in Karachi and the alleged government disregard of the Supreme Court ruling in deporting Nawaz Sharif.

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