Despite facing criticism for hurling allegations at the military leadership in recent months, former prime minister Nawaz Sharif remained defiant as he told a public meeting in Swat that he "cannot blame the entire army for the lawlessness of a few individuals".
While addressing a PML-N public meeting in Swat via video link, Nawaz once again named Army Chief Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa and Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) Director General Lt Gen Faiz Hameed and said: "When I say that Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa and [Lt] Gen Hameed Faiz should answer why they did this to Pakistan, why they threw Pakistan in a ditch, they say 'why does Nawaz Sharif take our names?'
"Gen Bajwa and [Lt] Gen Faiz, you formed a JIT of your choice, secured decisions of your choice as well, removed Nawaz Sharif from premiership, put me, Shehbaz Sharif, Maryam Nawaz and my party members in jail. Our character assassination through media is still underway."
Nawaz's remarks come less than a day after Prime Minister Imran Khan said that the PML-N supremo was trying to "create rifts" within the armed forces by encouraging army personnel to "rebel against" the military leadership.
"When they say that the [military leadership] is bad and the rest of the army is good; is army a democratic party that would move a no-confidence motion? You (Nawaz) are telling the army to launch a coup, to rebel [against the leadership]. Can there be a bigger [form of] treason?" Prime Minister Imran had said in an interview with GNN on Thursday night.
This is not the first time Nawaz has accused the military leadership of conspiring against him. In recent speeches in public meetings of his party and the 11-party opposition alliance — Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) — Nawaz has accused the security establishment of orchestrating his ouster. In a PDM rally in Gujranwala, Nawaz had named the army chief and ISI DG and said that there was "a state above the state".
In his speech today, the PML-N supremo said that his "crime was to talk about people's rights, Constitution, democratic principles".
"But what crime did the people commit? Why were your lives made difficult?" he said and added that he was not seeking answers from Prime Minister Imran but from those "who brought him to power".
"He (PM Imran) is a puppet. The people who move his strings will have to answer," declared the former prime minister.
Nawaz also talked about an inquiry report prepared by a commission formed on the army chief's orders to probe the "Karachi incident". Earlier this week, the Inter-Services Public Relations released a statement saying that officials of ISI and Sindh Rangers involved in the "Karachi incident" have been removed pending further departmental proceedings for acting "overzealously".
The inquiry was conducted after PPP Chairperson Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari urged the army chief to investigate the circumstances surrounding the arrest of PML-N leader retired Capt Mohammad Safdar in Karachi last month.
Nawaz, during his speech today, said that he "condemns and rejects" the ISPR press release and termed the inquiry report a "concocted story" that has raised more questions.
"In its report, there is no mention of forcing [the Sindh inspector general] to file an FIR. Even the names of officials [removed] are not mentioned, why? Because those names are holy? It is only the politicians that can be labeled as traitors and thieves," said the former prime minister.
Nawaz's daughter and PML-N Vice President Maryam Nawaz also addressed the crowd where she levelled criticism against the incumbent government once again. Terming the prime minister an "irrelevant character", she urged the institutions to "withdraw their support" for Imran.
"Once the institutions back away from him, his government will not even stand for 24 hours, I assure you," she told the participants of the gathering.
The PML-N vice president appealed the people of Swat to vote for her party in the upcoming Gilgit-Baltistan elections.
"I wish Swat would vote for PML-N, not because I want PML-N to form a government but because I want to see the same development here as in Lahore."
Maryam also alleged that it had been "decided" that the PML-N would only be given two to three seats in the GB Assembly but after observing the huge crowds in the party's public meetings, it was agreed that the party will have to be given at least seven to eight seats.
"If you indulge in rigging, it would be your loss, if you don't, it will still be your loss," she said, while addressing the incumbent government. "You will have to go home soon."