ISLAMABAD: The recently established ‘alliance of necessity’ between the two major opposition parties — the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf and the Pakistan Peoples Party — fell apart on Wednesday when their leaders traded allegations of corruption against each other and ruled out the possibility of any alliance between them in future.
Minutes after PTI chairman Imran Khan alleged that the PPP and the ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz had entered into a ‘deal’ to save each other from facing accountability, the PPP leaders in their statements accused the cricketer-turned-politician of doing politics through use of ‘black money’.
Speaking at a news conference at his Banigala residence, the PTI chief, while referring to recent court decisions in favour of the PPP leaders, claimed that he had no doubt that the PPP and the PML-N had entered into a deal and the two parties were now trying to hoodwink the nation through Noora Kushti (fixed fight) like wrestlers of the World Wrestling Federation (WWF).
He said that granting of bail to Dr Asim Hussain by the court, acquittal of former minister Hamid Saeed Kazmi in the Haj scam case, release of model Ayyan Ali and return of former Sindh minister Sharjeel Memon to the country were all results of the deal between the two parties.
Imran sees Nawaz-Zardari deal behind recent court verdicts; PPP alleges PTI chief in politics using black money
Even the return of PPP co-chairman Asif Zardari to the country from self-exile was a result of the deal, he claimed.
“There is no doubt that (Prime Minister) Nawaz Sharif has struck a deal with Asif Zardari to hide his corruption and due to fear of the Panama Papers case,” he said.
There had been an unannounced ceasefire between the PPP and the PTI for a few months for having common viewpoint over the Panama issue and both parties were even seen cooperating with each other during parliamentary proceedings.
In reply to a question about the possibility of any alliance between the PPP and the PTI in the next elections, Mr Khan said it was not possible until Mr Zardari was head of the PPP.
“Alliances are made between the parties having similar manifestos. The main issue here is that of corruption,” he said, adding: “Since Asif Zardari is the head of the PPP, we cannot make any alliance with them.”
Mr Khan claimed that there was a division within the PPP over the role of Mr Zardari and said the party’s Punjab chapter was unhappy over the return of the former president to the country.
“They (PPP Punjab leaders) are unable to bear the burden of Mr Zardari and want to see Bilawal at the driving seat,” he said, adding that there were people in the PPP who were against any deal with the PML-N and wanted real accountability.
The PTI chief said Dr Asim was facing charges of corruption worth Rs480 billion, whereas Ayyan Ali was involved in money laundering of Rs50 million.
He said the development budget of whole Khyber Pakhtunkhwa with a population of over 20 million was just Rs113bn, whereas the two parties were out to save an individual who had committed corruption worth Rs480bn. “How can we remain silent on this injustice with the people of Pakistan?” he asked.
The prime minister was visiting Sindh and Mr Zardari was sitting in Lahore under the same deal, Mr Khan said, adding that Mr Zardari had just realised that he was to play the role of the opposition and now talking about the rigging in the 2013 elections.
On the other hand, he said, when the PTI had staged a sit-in against the poll rigging, Mr Zardari had come to the rescue of Mr Sharif, saying they were doing it to save democracy.
The PTI chief recalled how Mr Zardari was welcomed with a variety of some 16 dishes during his visit to the Sharifs’ hometown Raiwind. He said that while welcoming Mr Zardari at Raiwind, the Sharifs had forgotten that they had announced during the election campaign that they would drag Zardari in the streets and recover the plundered $60m from him.
“Both Nawaz Sharif and Asif Zardari are money launderers as both of them have taken the looted money abroad.”
He said the whole nation was tired of waiting for the judgement in the Panama Papers case.
Asked if he was also criticising the courts for issuing the verdicts in favour of the PPP leaders, Mr Khan said the courts’ decisions were based on prosecution, adding that Dr Asim got bail when the prosecutor general was directed not to oppose it in the court.
PPP Senator Saeed Ghani said in a statement that Imran Khan feared the politics of Asif Zardari because “umpire and his finger” were missing from Pakistani politics and the PTI chief had lost all hopes of entering power corridor through the backdoor.
He said Mr Khan used to do ball tempering in cricket and wanted to use similar tactics in politics, alleging that the PTI chief was in politics using black money made by his cronies.
He said Dr Hussain had suffered but continued to fight the legal battle and defeated the PPP opponents. Mr Ghani demanded accountability of Mr Khan for alleged corruption in his own party’s funds.
PPP information secretary Chaudhry Manzoor said in a separate statement that Mr Khan in his heart and soul knew that his party was sinking and shrinking day by day. He said Dr Hussain had earned bail after a long legal battle and criticising courts’ decisions amounted to contempt of court.
“Imran’s politics is limited to badmouthing and levelling baseless accusations,” he said.
Published in Dawn, March 30th, 2017