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Sharif family coalesces against Supreme Court, deepening chaos inside Pakistan

File photo of the first family of Pakistani politics - Nawaz Sharif and Shehbaz Sharif (Photo: Twitter)

The Pakistani Supreme Court’s ruling about holding elections in Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa on May 14 instead of October 8 has been met with full resistance by the Sharif family. The decision to hold early elections was delivered by a three-member bench headed by Chief Justice Umar Ata Bandial with Justices Ijazul Ahsan and Munib Akhtar which over-ruled the Election Commission of Pakistan’s (ECP) decision on the matter.

Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif has called the verdict a “murder of justice” and compared the Supreme Court’s decision with that of former prime minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto’s hanging decades back. Speaking in the parliament on Tuesday, Sharif said: “Two decisions were made today, murder of Bhutto and murder of justice, which is highly regrettable”. Sharif’s statement is seen as trying to get Pakistan’s other powerful dynastic family of the Bhuttos on his side.

Besides venting his opposition against the Supreme Court ruling in the parliament, Sharif also rallied his team of ministers who rejected the verdict. The cabinet has asked the legal team to explore ways to get the decision overturned.

Even as the Prime Minister is leading the assault against the Supreme Court judges in Pakistani capital Islamabad, his brother Nawaz Sharif – the leader of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), told journalists in London that the decision by the Supreme Court bench against the election commission is unconstitutional.

Addressing a press conference, Nawaz Sharif said at Stanhope House in London that a case should be filed against the three-member bench before the Supreme Judicial Council (SJC). Criticising the chief justice, Nawaz said that it was a “one-man show” and an “attempt to rewrite the Constitution”. He also questioned Pakistan’s apex court about its decision to constitute a three-member bench instead of a full bench on a decision as important as holding elections.

London witnessed clashes between Nawaz’s supporters and former prime minister Imran Khan’s supporters as Nawaz left Stanhope House – considered to be the PML-N office in London. The Metropolitan Police had to be called after scuffles broke out between the supporters of the two parties. The two parties have exported their politics to the UK and also the US.

Meanwhile, Maryam Nawaz, the Chief Organiser of the PML-N called the Supreme Court verdict a murder of justice. Speaking in the Pakistani parliament, Maryam said that the supreme court is trying to foist Imran Khan. She even alleged that the three-member bench was trying to rewrite the Constitution in favour of Imran Khan so that he could be ‘selected’ again.

Maryam also tweeted that she doesn’t fear disqualification for speaking the truth. She has been spearheading the campaign against Imran Khan for the past many months since her return from the UK.

With the Pakistani Supreme Court fast-forwarding the elections, the battle to rule Pakistan has only intensified between the Sharif family and Imran Khan. Pakistan’s messy political parties have dragged not just the people but also the judiciary and the country’s institutions into their disputes even as people die over rationed food and the economy heads further into the abyss.

All this drama took place in Islamabad and London on a day when the Pakistani rupee plunged to its lowest.

Also read: Recovery of AK-47 rifles, petrol bombs from Imran Khan’s mansion raises questions about his intent