In an interesting turn of events, hours after the registration of a sedition case against PML-N supremo Nawaz Sharif and his top aides, a senior member of the federal cabinet claimed that Prime Minister Imran Khan was “displeased” with the move.
The FIR – registered at Lahore’s Shahdara police station by a citizen, Badar Rasheed – states that Sharif has “conspired against the state and its institutions” by making “provocative speeches” from London.
Sharif, who is in the British capital for treatment of his undiagnosed illness, has been declared a “proclaimed offender” after his refusal to return to Pakistan to serve out a seven-year jail-term handed down to him by a court following his conviction in a graft case.
While speaking via video-link at a recent multiparty opposition confab, Sharif heaped criticism on the security establishment, saying his struggle was not against Premier Imran but against “those who brought him to power”. Sharif struck a more defiant note in a subsequent speech at a party meeting.
The government ministers have since accused Sharif of promoting “India’s narrative” against Pakistan’s state institutions. Some went a step further saying that the PML-N supremo was in cohorts with Indian PM Narendra Modi.
However, Science and Technology Minister Fawad Chaudhry claimed in a Twitter post that Prime Minister Imran was not aware of the registration of the sedition case against Sharif and other PML-N leaders.
“The prime minister was not aware when I brought into his notice that an FIR has been registered [in Lahore] in which Nawaz Sharif and others have been nominated,” Fawad wrote on the popular microblogging site.
“He [Imran Khan] expressed strong displeasure. Let’s see what happens,” he added. The minister further said that it is not the policy of the PTI to file sedition cases as it is a political party. He called it a Sharif-era tactic..
“We still have moves to play on the political chessboard. The PML-N should save its pawns because the king and the queen cannot be dragged into the game too soon,” he wrote in another tweet. “The game has just begun. No need to hurry,” he added.
Separately, the prime minister’s political aide also said that the sedition case was registered by a citizen and that the government had nothing to do with it. However, he added that the FIR does not include “treason charges”.
Sharing a copy of the FIR on his Twitter handle, Shahbaz Gill pointed out that the FIR has been registered on charges of sedition – and sedition, according to Wikipedia, means “inciting people against the state institutions”.
“Our government does not favour registration of treason cases against politicians. This is something the PML-N used to do during its era and we opposed it all along,” Gill wrote in a series of tweets.
He added that the FIR should be investigated on merit. Several people nominated in the FIR did not support Sharif’s anti-state narrative, he claimed. “We know political compulsions of such people, why should we brand them traitors.”