ISLAMABAD: Pakistan Peoples Party co-chairperson and former president, Asif Ali Zardari, on Monday said Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has reverted to revenge politics of the 1990s, referring to the recent arrests of high-profile PPP members.
He said first Qasim Zia and Senator Bangash's son were arrested, which was followed by Dr Asim’s arrest by Rangers. Immediately afterwards, warrants for the arrests of former premier Yousuf Raza Gilani and Makhdoom Amin Fahim were also issued, he said.
In a statement from London, Zardari said bureaucrats in Sindh were being harassed by the Federal Investigation Agency and the National Accountability Bureau – pointing out that the chief secretary of Sindh is also currently on bail.
He said actions being taken by federal agencies in Sindh were clear violations of the Constitution.
“If they want to conduct fair accountability, they should first take action against a federal minister who confessed before a magistrate his involvement in money laundering for the Sharif-brothers. Only then we will know how clean followers of N-league are.”
Zardari said a video had surfaced in Punjab, showing provincial minister Rana Mushhood receiving money on behalf of the Sharif brothers but no action had been taken against him.
“All this unmistakably presents a clear pattern of political harassment and revenge,” he said, adding that Sindh had been immobilised under direct orders from the Prime Minister House.
The PPP co-chair said it appeared Nawaz Sharif had not learnt lessons from the past, adding that the politics of revenge should immediately be halted or it will produce disastrous consequences.
“We are not the ones who fled to Jeddah after seeking pardon. The nation very well knows that Nawaz Sharif holds the ‘honor’ of applying for pardon.”
We accepted the results of the 2013 general elections for the sake of democracy, although those elections were “ROs’ elections,” said Zardari, adding that the recent verdicts from election tribunals “proved our point that the PML-N received outside help and was made to win the elections.”
The former president said at a time when “our innocent citizens are being killed by indiscriminate shelling in border villages by the enemy, when Pakistani Army is fighting a decisive war against terrorists… Nawaz Sharif, instead of challenging the real enemy, is targeting Peoples Party and other political opponents.”
Zardari said steps being taken by the government clearly indicate that it is dividing the nation in an attempt to save its natural allies – Taliban and terrorists – and weaken the war against terror.
He said the PPP stands with the army in the ongoing war against terrorism. “We salute our jawans who gave the ultimate sacrifices in this war.”
The former president said today Nawaz Sharif was the prime minister and Shahbaz Sharif the chief minister of Punjab only because the PPP had removed the ban on third terms even though “it was evident to us that it will only serve the interests of the Sharif Brothers.”
Zardari demanded that Justice Najafi’s report on the Model Town killings last year be made public, along with arrests of all those involved in this “gruesome murder of innocent people.”
“Aren’t those who killed 14 people, including women, in the Model Town tragedy terrorists? Why are they not being arrested?”
He also demanded that all characters involved in the Asghar Khan case be apprehended.
Also read: PPP goes into damage-control mode
Pervaiz Rashid responds
Federal Information Minister Pervaiz Rashid assured on Monday that the government has not indulged in politics of revenge, has not done so in the past, and will not indulge in such tactics in the future.
“We as a government are not involved in politics of revenge,” said the federal minister.
“Every case would be referred to the courts, and we would leave it to the independent judiciary of Pakistan to take appropriate measures,” added Rashid.
Rashid also stated that it is the duty of the government to act upon criticism it receives from the opposition.
He said that all political parties, including the PPP, had agreed to an across-the-board operation in Karachi and the operation was launched after all parties had agreed to support it.
“The prime minister has also asked for a report on Asif Zardari’s statement,” stated Rashid.
Earlier, following the arrest of former petroleum minister Dr Asim Hussain and party leader Qasim Zia, PPP had reacted strongly and had explicitly refuted allegations leveled against its office bearers.
The PPP denied the impression it was involved in terror financing, saying the party had itself suffered huge losses in the fight against terrorism. “How can you say that PPP is involved in terror financing?”
The party’s senior vice president Sherry Rehman said the PPP has always been on the front-line in the war against terror.
PPP has always respected the judiciary and will not carry out action that hampers the current democratic setup in the country, she said.
Talking about the ongoing anti-corruption drive in Sindh, Rehman clarified that the “PPP has no objection whatsoever over the operation and will create no hurdle in its implementation”.
But she said “it looks like politics of revenge is being carried out with the PPP as the sole target.”
“We will keep alive our tradition of struggle for democracy and will face every atrocity,” said the PPP vice president.
It is pertinent to mention here that Muttahida Qaumi Movement has also strongly protested against what it calls extrajudicial killings and forced disappearances and arrests of its workers under the garb of the Karachi operation.
The party, which has resigned from Parliament in protest over excesses being committed during the Rangers-led Karachi operation, criticised the PML-N run federal and PPP-run Sindh governments for not being able to ensure a transparent security operation in the metropolis.
MQM claims it is being targeted under the security operation, a claim now being voiced by the PPP.
But the federal government and the paramilitary force – Rangers – and the army's upper command has on numerous occasions insisted that the security operation in Sindh is apolitical and is targeting only criminal elements.