On Sunday, while addressing the much-hyped PPP-hosted multiparty conference in Islamabad, PML-N supremo Nawaz Sharif said that the struggle of the opposition was not against Prime Minister Imran Khan but against those who brought him to power in the 2018 elections.
He was addressing the meeting, aimed at devising a plan to overthrow the PTI-led coalition government, via video link from London. The speech had marked the political return of the deposed prime minister after more than a year. He has been on medical attention in the UK since November last year.
“This selected government and this structure should be excluded from our top priority. Our war is not against Imran Khan,” Nawaz announced. “Our battle today is against those who set up Imran Khan and manipulated elections to put an incompetent man like him into power and thus ruined the country.”
“If reform is not brought, it will bring permanent loss to this country. It is very important that our armed forces stay away from our system of government in compliance with our Constitution and the speech of the Quaid, and not interfere with the option of the people. We have made this country a joke in our own eyes and internationally.”
“The speakers, PML-N’s Nawaz and Shehbaz Sharif and PPP’s Asif Ali Zardari and Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, were united before a recess for lunch to stress the” need for an action plan. But the opposition has yet to reveal what it is.
Democracy in danger
“If we don’t do it [take a step] today, when will we?” asked Nawaz.
“I agree with Maulana [Fazlur Rehman, chief of JUI-F] that we need to make this conference purposeful or people will be disappointed.
“Pakistan has been constantly deprived of a democratic system […] When the vote is dishonored, the entire democratic system becomes meaningless. When it is decided before the election process as to who will win and who will lose, then it can be guessed how the public is betrayed and how the public’s mandate is stolen.”
Pakistan has become a laboratory of “such experiments”, added Nawaz. “Every child knows that no prime minister has been allowed to complete five years in power.”
All dictators have spent multiple years while premiers have hardly been allowed to complete their term, he said.
“When a dictator was first brought into the courtroom for violating the Constitution, you saw what happened. Court gave dictators the right to play with the Constitution and acquitted someone who broke the Constitution twice […] Whereas the ones who follow the Constitution are still in jail.”
Opening remarks by Zardari
Zardari praised Nawaz Sharif for his virtual presence at the conference and asked everyone to pray for the wellbeing of the former prime minister. At present, both Zardari and Nawaz, who are facing corruption charges, are on bail because of their health.
Zardari attacked the government in his remarks for what he called ‘tactics’ to silence the opposition and the media.
Nawaz breaks his silence
Nawaz began by thanking both PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari and Zardari for hosting the meeting, saying that he would not forget the love with which the former president had spoken to him the day before.
I’m grateful to the conference organizers for giving me the chance to talk. Even though I’m away from my country, I know very well what state the country and the people are in.
“The leader of the country continues to harp on transparency, but he is involved in growing sugar prices himself. Will no reference be lodged against him?”
He also reiterated the opposition’s claim that only ‘selective accountability’ was carried out by the National Accountability Bureau (NAB), with PTI’s connivance.