ISLAMABAD: Opposition parties on Monday lambasted Prime Minister Imran Khan over his speech in the US and termed it “provocative, anarchic and full of venom”.

A number of senior leaders of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) and the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), including Maryam Nawaz and Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari, responded to the prime minister’s speech through their social media accounts, press statements and even news conferences and described Mr Khan’s latest diatribe against their top leadership on foreign soil an act of bringing disrepute to the country.

Prime Minister Imran Khan, while addressing a community event at Washington’s Capital One Arena on Sunday, had stated that the problem in Pakistan was that when political leaders were asked for answers, they said that political revenge was being taken. While referring to political leaders in the country, the premier had said they had just one purpose — they wanted him to offer them a deal.

Responding to Mr Khan’s speech, PPP chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari tweeted that it seemed the prime minister had not come down from his container, saying that Mr Khan had become a ruler but not a leader.

“Pity, even when representing our country abroad (the) selected PM can’t get off his container. Imran is a ruler not a leader. Pakistan needs a leader who speaks for all Pakistanis not just himself. If government does opposition and opposition does opposition then who’s left to run the country?” asked Mr Bhutto-Zardari.

Later, in a statement released to the media, the PPP chairman condemned media censorship by the government of the rally of PML-N leader Maryam Nawaz and said it was proof that “Imran Khan is a selected PM and his government is a selected government”.

Mr Bhutto-Zardari said the party which staged a sit-in in front of parliament for 126 days was not able to tolerate a single rally of opposition which proved that Mr Khan was unable to listen to any voice of dissent.

PML-N’s vice president Maryam Nawaz through her social media account on Twitter stated that the prime minister had to do a public meeting in the US because “owing to the havoc he has played with the people of Pakistan, for him to come out in public and face the simmering wrath and rage in Pakistan may not be possible”.

She also questioned the logic of spending millions of dollars on the “event”. She said the Pakistanis should ask “the selected” that what conditions he had accepted before going to the US.

Reacting over Mr Khan’s statement that he would remove TV and air-conditioner from her father’s room in jail, she said such an action could be “detrimental” to Mr Sharif’s health as the doctor said that perspiration in this humid weather could affect his kidneys.

Meanwhile, speaking at a news conference at National Press Club, PML-N leaders Ahsan Iqbal, Marriyum Aurangzeb and Musadik Malik also hit out at the prime minister, saying that it was a pity that even in Washington Mr Khan was only thinking about Nawaz Sharif.

Mr Iqbal said the “selected PM” had delivered the same speech in Washington, which he had been delivering for the past many months as he had nothing more to say. He said the prime minister was damaging the country’s image by declaring it a corrupt country. He said Mr Khan was making speech like an NGO leader doing advocacy.

“On a foreign visit, you should be a representative of Pakistan. He delivered a speech which a politician does while standing at Mochi Gate,” he said.

Mr Iqbal advised Mr Khan to think about the country, instead of Nawaz Sharif. He said it was ironic that Nawaz Sharif remained under discussion for most of the time even during the cabinet meetings. He said the government’s policies were now becoming a “security risk” for the country.

Similarly, speaking at a news conference in Lahore, PPP’s Punjab president Qamar Zaman Kaira said the nation expected that the prime minister would represent the nation in the US and draw the attention of the Americans towards the sacrifices Pakistan was offering in the war on terror, but he continued hurling threats at political rivals in his speech to the Pakistan diaspora.

Mr Kaira said the prime minister was speaking as a superintendent of a prison when he talked of withdrawing certain facilities being availed by some incarcerated politicians.

“Dear brother, this is not your job and the law in force will be implemented in the country because it’s not any kingdom, though your own conduct speaks of royalty. There’s democracy, though weak, in Pakistan and courts are delivering justice,” he said.

Published in Dawn, July 23rd, 2019


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