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KARACHI: Deposed prime minister Nawaz Sharif on Thursday claimed to have enjoyed good relations with “a few army chiefs”, hinting that his ties with most of them remained lukewarm at best, but said he disagreed with people only when they “undermined the supremacy of the Constitution and law”.

In an interview to BBC Urdu, Mr Sharif reiterated that he would not allow the value of the vote to decline and said he would continue to struggle for the supremacy of people’s mandate. He, however, said he did not favour a clash between institutions.

“The impression that I opposed all my army chiefs is not correct,” he said. “I definitely enjoyed good relations with a few generals. I have never violated the Constitution.... If anyone does not believe in the supremacy of the Constitution and law, I don’t agree with him,” said the former prime minister.

Referring to the military coup of 1999, he said: “When Pervez Musharraf imposed martial law, he and a few of his [fellow] generals were against me, not the entire army. The army was not even aware that martial law had been imposed. Whatever has been done with this country, mainly by dictators, it’s a recipe for disaster.”

Says he opposes clash between institutions

When against the backdrop of last year’s troubles in Turkey, where people rose up against some armed forces personnel attempting to mount a coup, he was asked whether or not similar events could take place in Pakistan, Mr Sharif said he would not favour any such scenario.

“I am against such a clash,” he said. “And I should not be alone in opposing the clash between institutions. We should stand united against this. There should be no situation that leads to a clash. It’s not my responsibility alone, but rather everyone’s.”

Much like the statements he had made during his recent homecoming journey from Islamabad to Lahore, the former president of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz told the interviewer that he had managed to diagnose the ailment that afflicted the country’s political system. “We have found the cure of the illness that has caused crises and disasters,” he said. “Now we need to set the course of our country. We will continue our struggle for the restoration of prestige of the ballot.

“This is not a protest but a campaign. And I am not saying this because I want to become prime minister again. The premiership is full of thorns and not a bed of roses.”

In reply to a question about chiefs of the two main opposition parties, Mr Sharif declined to say anything about Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf’s Imran Khan.

However, he did speak his mind about former president and PPP chairman Asif Ali Zardari. “I have never asked him [Zardari] for anything, neither do I want to [in future],” he said, but admitted that he had asked a “few friends” to sit down with Senate Chairman Raza Rabbani to discuss his suggestion for dialogue between institutions.

“This is the need of the hour,” he added.

Published in Dawn, August 18th, 2017