SWAT: Pakistan Muslim League (PML-N) supreme leader Nawaz Sharif has said that Prime Minister Imran Khan is mere a ‘puppet’ playing in the hands of some elements and those pulling his strings would have to answer.

Addressing a PML-N pub­lic gathering at Grassy Gro­und here on Friday via video link, Mr Sharif said these elements would be made accountable one day for their injustices inflicted on the people of Pakistan thro­ugh non-democratic actions.

As some senior leaders of the opposition Pakistan Democratic Alliance have continued to target PM Khan and his PTI government, the PML-N supremo’s latest speech indicates that he is not willing to shift the focus where his main target of attack remains senior members of the security establishment. Only a day after PML-N vice president Maryam Nawaz’s interview with the BBC, in which she mostly talked about the need to oust the present government, and even indicated the possibility of a dialogue with the establishment after the dismissal of the government, Nawaz Sharif continued to allege that those responsible for the present state of affairs were the two top officials of the security establishment.

Recalling the Karachi incident, Nawaz Sharif said: “IG Sindh was made hostage and forced to register an FIR against [retired captain] Safdar and then he was arrested after the door of the hotel room was broken. On this shameful act the Sindh police reacted in protest.”

He said Army Chief General Qamar Bajwa had himself ordered an inquiry into the Karachi incident. “Now a statement was issued saying that officials of ISI and Sindh Rangers involved in the Karachi incident have been removed pending further departmental proceedings for acting overzealously,” he said, adding that the whole episode had proved his claim that there was a “state above the state”.

Mr Sharif said he had condemned and rejected the ISPR press release and termed the inquiry report a fictional story that raised more questions. He said he could not blame the entire army for the lawlessness of a few individuals.

“Gen Bajwa and [Lt] Gen Faiz formed a JIT of their choice, secured decisions of their choice as well, removed me from premiership and put me, Shehbaz Sharif, Maryam Nawaz and my party members in jail,” he said, adding that their character assassination through media was still going on.

The PML-N supremo said he was punished for talking about people’s rights, Constitution and democratic principles. “But what crime did the people commit? Why were your lives made difficult?” He said he was not seeking answers from Prime Minister Khan but from those who had brought him to power.

Addressing the gathering, Maryam Nawaz said the “fake government of a joker” was suppressed under Nawaz Sharif’s narrative and his one speech snatched the rulers’ sleep.

PML-N leaders Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, Ahsan Iqbal, Pervaiz Rashid, Marriyum Aurangzeb, Mian Javed Latif, Talal Chaudhry, Murtaza Javed Abbasi, Amir Muqam and others were in attendance.

Maryam Nawaz said those who named the Metro Bus services of Lahore and Islamabad “jangla bus services” had constructed the Rs8 billion worth of BRT project in Peshawar with a huge cost of Rs124bn. “Despite spending huge funds on BRT, it is still incomplete. The buses of BRT seem as helpless as the ‘selected’ prime minister,” she said, adding that the defected buses of BRT were a slap on the face of him [Imran Khan].

“We don’t want to clash with state institutions, but institutions must not clash with the public, too. I want to make it clear that if you try to rig the elections you will repent and if you do not rig you will also repent because PML-N will win the upcoming elections in Gilgit-Baltistan,” she claimed, adding that the country was echoing with the narrative of Nawaz Sharif — honour the vote and do not make a state above the state.

She said it was the duty of everyone to join the narrative of Nawaz Sharif which was the narrative of the Quaid-i-Azam and the narrative of strengthening democracy.

Ms Nawaz censured the statement of Interior Minister Ejaz Shah regarding the Awami National Party and said it hurt the feelings of families who rendered sacrifices for the country.

She said the PTI government in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa failed to establish a single forensic laboratory and samples were sent to forensic laboratories in Punjab when an incident happened in KP.

Ms Nawaz expressed grief and sorrow over the demise of Peshawar High Court Chief Justice Waqar Ahmed Seth and special prayers were offered for him. “Today the country lost a brave and fair chief justice but he will be remembered in history forever,” she added.

Published in Dawn, November 14th, 2020