Nawaz Sharif criticised the judiciary for forcing him to quit as prime minister

Pakistan's Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif looks on during a joint news conference with Turkey's Prime Minister Binali Yildirim, following their meeting in Ankara,Turkey, Thursday, Feb. 23, 2017. Sharif, in Turkey on an official visit, will have meetings with the Turkish leadership. (AP Photo/Burhan Ozbilici)

Vastavam web:A defiant Nawaz Sharif today criticised the judiciary for forcing him to quit as prime minister, saying it was an “insult” to 200 million people of Pakistan that their elected leader was unceremoniously ousted with a single stroke of pen.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.”It is an insult to 20 crore people of Pakistan. You voted for me and ‘five honourable’ (judges) with a single stroke of pen sent me home,” 67-year-old Sharif told his supporters in Jhelum on the second day of his journey from Islamabad to Lahore via the Grand Trunk (GT) Road.

“Every prime minister in this country was given one-and- a-half-year tenure, on average, to govern. Some were executed, some jailed, some handcuffed, and some exiled,” he said.On the other hand, dictators were allowed to rule for decades and the judges even allowed them to rule, Sharif said.”Is there any court in the country to hold a dictator accountable? One of them (Gen Pervez Musharraf) went out for medical treatment of his backache but never came back to face cases,” he said.Sharif said he was not seeking restoration but his struggle was to institute “respect for the mandate of the people”.

“You sent me to Islamabad but they (judges) have sent me back to home,” he said.In a bold move, Sharif climbed on an open stage to deliver the speech instead of addressing his supporters through his bomb-proof special vehicle.Sharif addressed a huge rally in downtown Rawalpindi, after starting his journey from Islamabad to Lahore to project his political strength.Sources in Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) said that Sharif was unhappy with the turnout and asked party leaders to make more targeted efforts to bring out the supporters. PML-N leaders are in the process of making arrangements for more supporters to attend the rally.The movement was in stark contrast to yesterday’s travel from Islamabad to Rawalpindi, when he took more than 12 hours to cover about 30-km distance which takes about half an hour in normal circumstances.

He asked the people to make a pledge to guard their mandate so that elected representative are not removed through undemocratic ways. “Make a promise that you would get your mandate respected. Promise me you won’t allow your prime minister to be humiliated this way,” he said.He criticised the apex court verdict, saying the judges said there was no charge of corruption, then asked why he had been disqualified if there is no case of misappropriation.

“I leave this for history to determine,” said Sharif.He posed a question to the gathering, if they accept the decision. The public responded with big “No”.”This gathering here serves as a referendum. The court of the people of Pakistan has given its verdict in my favour,” he said.