Maryam Nawaz accuses govt of 'creating divisions' among public, opposes Shehbaz on 'charter of economy'

Updated June 22, 2019

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Former premier's daughter and a vice president of PML-N Maryam Nawaz speaks to the media in Lahore. — DawnNewsTV screengrab
Former premier's daughter and a vice president of PML-N Maryam Nawaz speaks to the media in Lahore. — DawnNewsTV screengrab

PML-N Vice President Maryam Nawaz levelled heavy criticism at the government during a press conference in Lahore on Saturday, while also walking her party back from a proposal to arrive at a 'charter of economy' with the government.

'Shehbaz has his own reasons for supporting charter of economy'

Terming the opposition's proposed 'charter of economy' as a mazaq-i-ma'eeshat (making a joke of the economy), Maryam said there can be no agreement with the incumbent government, which she said "stole the people's mandate".

She also distanced herself from PML-N President Shehbaz Sharif's decision to support the charter.

"Shehbaz sahib has a lot more political and administrative experience than me. He must definitely have considered things that I am unable to see when he talked about [signing a] charter of economy. He has his own opinion," she said.

Also read: By dubbing the charter of economy a joke, Maryam has made fun of her uncle: SAPM Awan

She added that as a citizen of Pakistan and a PML-N member, it was her right to hold and express an opinion.

"Whenever I have a dissenting note or different opinion on any issue, I express it respectfully before Shehbaz Sharif during party meetings," she said. "If it is rejected, that is a different matter. If it is accepted, then that is very good."

Having said that, she condemned the idea of giving the current government "a way out" by signing an agreement or charter, and added that Nawaz Sharif — who she underlined has the final word on party matters — shares her opinion.

"To sign a charter with a man who has ruined the economy and made people's lives difficult is equivalent to giving him an NRO," she said.

"How can you give them (government) relief over something that they should be held responsible for?"

"[The prime minister] has ruined the economy by his incompetence and now he wants the opposition's stamp [of approval] so he can get an endorsement of his [performance]," she said.

"This cannot be. Let him answer [for his performance]. Whoever supports his falling credibility will be held accountable in the people's court, no matter which opposition party it is. We should not become a part of this crime."

"You do not offer to sign a charter with a man who came into office by stealing votes and a mandate, you make and example of him."

Later, while responding to a journalist speculating on the differences between her and uncle Shehbaz Sharif, Maryam stated that whatever she had said was her personal opinion and should not be construed to mean that she had differences with the PML-N president.

"There is no conflict between me and Shahbaz Sharif sahib and God willing this wish of our opponents will never be fulfilled," she tweeted. "I have clarified that this is my personal opinion. Those who try to present [the difference of opinion] as a conflict will be disappointed."

Commission of Inquiry

Responding to a question regarding the Commission of Inquiry formed by the government to probe a sharp growth in debts over the past decade, Maryam said the commission should begin its investigation from 1999 instead of 2008.

She also called for an investigation into the loans taken over the past 10 months by the incumbent government.

"The nalaiq-i-azam [incompetent prime minister] has borrowed Rs5,000 billion in the first 10 months of his government. The total amount borrowed by the PML-N during its [5-year] tenure was Rs10,000bn," she said.

"Despite borrowing so much money, he has not spent a penny to provide relief to the masses [...] This man is going to form a commission [to investigate debts] today."

"PML-N has several [development] projects to show for the loans it took, which include power projects to produce 11,000 megawatts, Neelum-Jhelum, Kachhi Canal and state-of-the-art, world class motorways stretching to 1,700 kilometres. We also [conducted the] world's most expensive operations to eliminate terrorism, like Raddul Fasad, Zarb-i-Azb and the Karachi operation," Maryam said.

"What do they have to show [for the loans they took]? Have they spent even a single rupee for the relief of the masses? Do they have that billion tree [tsunami project], that has not even been started, to show for the money they borrowed? Or the BRT Peshawar project that has turned the city into ruins?"

"An investigation should also be held into the loans that have been wasted due to the incompetency of the [prime minister]," she said.

She also questioned the inclusion of representatives of the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) and intelligence agencies in the commission.

"What message does the inclusion of NAB convey? Isn't NAB an independent institution? Why are intelligence agencies being included? There are no area experts [in the commission]. What do the ISI or MI have to do with this [commission]? Why are you (government) making institutions controversial? ISI and MI should stay away from this nonsense; they should stay away from the political divisions that are being created [by the government]."

"Why are you creating divisions among masses by dragging [these] institutions [into political matters]?"

She also called for an independent audit of the commission by a neutral economic organisation.

Was kept in the dark about Nawaz's health

The former premier's daughter said that she was not told about Nawaz's health problems by doctors and did not know that he had suffered a heart attack.

During her press conference, Maryam claimed that she had been told that "80 per cent of Nawaz's medical problems were not being highlighted in his reports as every word was being scrutinised". She further said that doctors were "reluctant" to treat Nawaz as his was "a high profile and complicated case".

"This is why he (Nawaz) did not want to go to the hospital," she said.

Maryam read out a report dated Aug 1, 2018, which said that troponin levels in Nawaz's blood were found to be raised.

"Troponin levels rise when you experience a heart attack," she told reporters.

She said that many family members, including her grandmother, had not been allowed to meet Nawaz in hospital. The PML-N vice president revealed that a man had been "appointed" to stay in Nawaz's hospital room and alleged that his job was to "overhear on our conversations".

She vowed to continue to defend her father. "Can't a daughter fight her father's case? I will go to any end to fight for him."

She declared that Pakistan "is not Egypt and we will not let Nawaz turn into Morsi".