BATKHELA/PESHAWAR: The leaders of the country’s main opposition parties raised the “Go Nawaz go” slogan in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, demanding that Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif step down following the Supreme Court’s verdict in the Panama Papers case.
But plans for a grand opposition alliance seemed a distant dream on Tuesday, as Asif Ali Zardari and Imran Khan also took aim at each other’s parties in speeches that seemed more suited to the campaign trail than as precursors to a possible alliance.
Addressing a public gathering in Malakand, the former president and Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) co-chairman dismissed the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) chief as “a fake Khan”, and dubbed Nawaz Sharif “a prodigy of Gen Ziaul Haq”.
Mr Zardari alleged that PM Sharif was a product of the establishment and accused him of still furthering the agenda of the former military dictator.
Mr Zardari blamed the philosophy of PM Sharif and his mentor, Gen Zia, for the brutal killing of Mashal Khan and regretted the blocking of Pakhtuns’ CNICs. Addressing PM Sharif, he said Pakhtuns should be given their due rights.
Imran, Zardari also lash out at each other in KP
He alleged that the Sharif family had looted the nation’s wealth with both hands and vowed to retrieve whatever they had made off with.
He reminded the people of KP about all that the PPP had done for them, giving the impression that he was there to garner votes as much as to assail the ruling parties in the province and at the Centre.
The PPP co-chairman lamented that the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, which was initiated by his government to end the sense of deprivation prevailing in KP and Balochistan, had been snatched by the ruling party and called on Pakhtuns to reclaim what was rightfully theirs.
He claimed credit for renaming the province and accused Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif of snatching morsels from the mouths of Pakhtuns by encroaching on their share in the National Finance Commission award.
He recalled how the writ of the government had been established in Swat and how the PPP government had looked after thousands of people displaced from the Malakand division during the conflict there.
Reminding the crowd that the late Benazir Bhutto had always raised her voice for the people of the tribal areas, he vowed that Fata would be merged with KP if the PPP came into power again.
PPP leader said that problems for overseas Pakistanis living abroad particularly Middle East countries had increased there. He said that people of Malakand division and parts of the country are facing manifold problem in Arab countries but the rulers were enjoying their family relation with these ME countries.
Mr Zardari also lambasted the ruling PML-N for its silence over the use of the massive ‘Mother of All Bombs’ in neighbouring Afghanistan. He also expressed sympathies with the people of Malakand, whose loved ones were facing tough living conditions abroad, such as in the Middle East.
Fresh from his diatribe against the PPP in Dadu on Saturday, where he accused the former president of “belittling” the party of Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, on Tuesday, the PTI chief turned his sights back on Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.
Reminding PM Sharif how he had demanded Yousuf Raza Gillani’s resignation when the Supreme Court had found the latter guilty of contempt, Mr Khan told a gathering of party leaders at the CM House in Peshawar that judges of the Supreme Court had rejected the Sharifs’ evidence, Qatari letter and all.
According to a handout issued on Tuesday, he claimed the verdict had vindicated his party’s stance and called on party workers to make PTI’s April 28 show in Islamabad a resounding success.
He alleged that the institutions tasked with probing the PM were subordinate to him, and questioned how a fair probe could be held while Nawaz Sharif remained in office.
Speaking to party lawmakers, the PTI chief accused Nawaz Sharif of offering him Rs10 billion to “stay quiet”, adding that he could offer a lot more to other institutions to keep mum. He also stressed the need to maintain public pressure on the government.
Addressing another ceremony, held to mark the inauguration of the under-23 games at the Hayatababad Complex, he told an audience of youths: “Had I given up, I would not have been able to build Shaukat Khanum hospital or to set up the PTI.”
In a speech that seemed designed to inspire young people into action, he stressed the need to instil the sporting spirit among all players.
He attributed his success to his sporting career, saying: “If a champion loses, he never gives up. He gets up, analyses his mistakes and goes to play again.”
When the audience began to chant “Go Nawaz Go”, he observed that this would be “done on Friday”.
He also praised Younis Khan, who hails from Mardan, on becoming the first Pakistani cricketer to achieve 10,000 runs.
Published in Dawn, April 26th, 2017