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ISLAMABAD: Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari on Friday rejected any possibility of a ‘short-term alliance’ with the ruling Pakis­tan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), saying that not the system but Nawaz Sharif was in trouble.

Speaking at a press conference, the PPP chief also ruled out any contact between his party and the N-League amid the current political crisis in the country.

“There is no contact between us. I will never talk to them. I will attend no meeting and will not sign any document,” he said when asked whether any deal was being struck between the PPP and N-League amid reports that the ruling party was trying to have a short-term adjustment with the main opposition party to smoothly complete its five-year term, especially after Mr Sharif’s disqualification.

PPP chairman says Sharif, not system, is in trouble

He said the PPP had never supported the PML-N and always came forward for strengthening democracy in the country.

Mr Bhutto-Zardari accused Mr Sharif of maligning the judiciary and the military establishment and blaming them for his ouster. He said there was no institutional interference in the Panama Papers case. “I do not see any role of the judiciary and the army in the removal of Mr Sharif from office,” he said, adding: “What was the role of the establishment or the judiciary in the Panamagate issue? It is a bit disingenuous to link the two. The establishment did not plant the Panama Papers story.”

Answering a question whether there was any threat to democracy in the country, he said: “There seems to be no threat to the system, but Mr Sharif himself is undoubtedly in trouble.”

“It appears to be a drama to me,” Mr Bhutto-Zardari said regarding Mr Sharif’s attempts at creating a narrative about a conspiracy against him while addressing supporters during his current ‘homecoming’ rally. The PPP chairman said when Mr Sharif came into power he forgot the Charter of Democracy, an agreement signed by Banazir Bhutto and Mr Sharif, but he had begun talking about it once out of power.

Referring to Mr Sharif’s criticism against five judges of the Supreme Court, he said it appeared that the contempt of court law applied only to the PPP and no action was taken against any other party.

He vowed that the PPP would return stronger in the upcoming general elections, irrespective of when they were held. “This time Asif Ali Zardari and I will take part in the elections and the result will definitely be different,” he said.

Defending his party’s poor performance in 2013, he said former president Asif Ali Zardari was barred from campaigning by a ‘political judge’ and Taliban had issued threats to the PPP while allowing Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI), PML-N and Jamaat-i-Islami to campaign freely.

He expressed concern over the rising number of missing persons’ cases in Sindh and other parts of the country. “I have asked the Senate’s human rights committee to take up the issue as well,” he added.

Talking about the role of the National Accountability Bureau (NAB), Mr Bhutto-Zardari defended the recently-introduced accountability law for Sindh, and said the right to legislate on the matter had been transferred to provinces after devolution of powers. “If the PTI can establish a separate accountability system in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, why can Sindh not do it?” he asked.

He said that the new law in Sindh would be much better than the controversial NAB ordinance.

Published in Dawn, August 12th, 2017

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