LAHORE: Former prime minister Nawaz Sharif revealed on Tuesday that he had sent a “message of displeasure” to Pakistan Peoples Party co-chairman Asif Ali Zardari for lashing out at the military establishment and subsequently cancelled a planned meeting with him the following day.

“Why at that time [June 15, 2015] did Mr Zardari not tell that he was asked by me to issue this [anti-army] statement? Why after three years has he decided to speak the truth? I would like to know if Mr Zardari was so innocent and simple that he was duped by me,” Mr Sharif said in a statement in response to Mr Zardari’s reported comments about him.

Mr Zardari, however, denied issuing any such statement. “If you want to speak against me, you can, but do not say you are reacting to a statement which I have not given,” he was reported to have told Geo News in response to Mr Sharif’s statement.

The Bilawal House had also denied the remarks attributed to the PPP leader on Monday.

Mr Sharif asked the PPP leader to tell the people if he was speaking his (Nawaz) language at that time and “whose language he is speaking today”.

Mr Zardari had reportedly termed Mr Sharif “far more cunning and opportunistic”, saying his “hard-hitting statement [against the establishment]” was in fact a gambit by Mr Sharif who tried to use this to settle his matters with then army chief Gen Raheel Sharif.

PPP co-chairman denies issuing any such statement

He also accused Mr Sharif of ditching the PPP on the matter of former president retired General Pervez Musharraf. “The PPP wanted to impeach Musharraf but instead of supporting the move, Nawaz Sharif backtracked. When Nawaz Sharif filed a sedition case against Musharraf, we supported the move but he [Nawaz] let him [Musharraf] leave the country under some deal.”

Mr Zardari had left the country after this speech and remained abroad in ‘self-exile’ for 18 months or so. In that speech, Mr Zardari had remarked: “Army chiefs come and go every three years, but the political leadership is here to stay. We know the country better and we know how to run its affairs.”

Clarifying on the matter of Mr Musharraf, Mr Sharif said: “Differences with Musharraf do not mean that one takes on an institution [army]. We had set certain conditions to be part of the PPP government [in 2008]. These included impeachment of Musharraf, restoration of judges and repeal of the 17th Amendment. I would like to ask Zardari who ditched whom. Not keeping his words Zardari had said such agreements were not the words of Hadith and the Quran.”

The former prime minister also reminded Mr Zardari that he had come to him at his Raiwind residence along with a national political leader and insisted that all acts of Mr Musharraf should be validated by parliament, but “I refused straightaway”.

Responding to Mr Zardari and other PPP leaders’ claim that he (Nawaz) had ensured the National Accountability Bureau’s (NAB) actions against some PPP leaders in Sindh, Mr Sharif said: “NAB got active in Sindh on the order of then Rangers director general and Zardari and Dr Asim know this very well.” He advised Mr Zardari to “stop this kind of politics” as the people were sick of behind-the-scenes conspiracies. “This is the reason the PPP has become confined to the interior of Sindh.”

Taunting the PPP co-chairman for working for someone else and not for the people of Pakistan, Mr Sharif said: “Asif Zardari wants to put his weight behind someone else instead of the people. Mr Zardari should tell to whose tune he is dancing today.”

Reiterating his election narrative — give respect to the ballot — Mr Sharif said he was busy in his ideological struggle and his mission was to restore the rule of the people in the country.

The PPP leadership often says that it had shaken hands with the Sharifs for the supremacy of democracy but they used the former for their political gains.

Published in Dawn, May 2nd, 2018

Opinion

Editorial

The Musharraf enigma
Updated 06 Feb, 2023

The Musharraf enigma

The Musharraf era holds numerous lessons for Pakistan’s ruling elite, civilian and military.
Staying neutral
06 Feb, 2023

Staying neutral

THE Election Commission of Pakistan has what is perhaps one of the most thankless jobs in the country. The countless...
Wikipedia ban
06 Feb, 2023

Wikipedia ban

THE country was back in a familiar, dark place last week when the PTA blocked Wikipedia over the charge that it...
IMF’s firm stance
Updated 05 Feb, 2023

IMF’s firm stance

Pakistan needs to complete the review to stave off a default as well as to unlock inflows from other multilateral and bilateral lenders.
Grotesque bigotry
05 Feb, 2023

Grotesque bigotry

FREEDOM to profess one’s faith is guaranteed by the Constitution of Pakistan. However, for the country’s Ahmadi...
Kashmir reflections
05 Feb, 2023

Kashmir reflections

ASIDE from Kashmir Day, which the nation is observing today as an official holiday, there are a number of other days...