PML-N leader Shahid Khaqan Abbasi said on Saturday that fellow PML-N member Javed Latif had not uttered a single word against state institutions, but should still apologise for his remarks.
The former prime minister was speaking to the media in Karachi when he came to the defence of his colleague. However, he maintained that he did not agree with Latif's statement.
"I didn't hear any statement of his against national institutions," said Abbasi, adding that Latif had said he might not be able to say Pakistan khappay (long live Pakistan) if anything happened to party Vice President Maryam Nawaz during a television programme.
Abbasi said Latif had uttered the remarks after getting carried away, and that he disagreed with the statement. "He should apologise".
Latif had made the remarks during a TV show to protest an alleged threat to Maryam by an army officer.
His remarks had sparked a controversy among the ranks of the government, and Punjab Prisons Minister Fayyazul Hassan Chohan had vowed to get a case registered against Latif.
Adviser to the Punjab Chief Minister Dr Firdous Ashiq Awan had also chided the PML-N leadership for levelling false allegations against state institutions for their benefit.
She had said that by levelling allegations against state institutions, the PML-N was not serving the national cause. Such baseless allegations won’t damage Pakistan and its institutions, but would expose Latif and other such “courtiers”, she had said.
A few hundred people had also staged a demonstration against Latif at Liberty Chowk on Sunday. Raising slogans against the PML-N MNA, the protesters had burnt effigies of Latif and Maryam.
'Not angry with Zardari'
Abbasi also said there was no need to appease PPP leader Asif Ali Zardari because "he is not angry with us and we are not angry with him". He reiterated that the PPP leader had the right to share his opinion.
He said Zardari had a right to his opinion and "we respect it". If Zardari was successful in running the affairs of the country in accordance with the Constitution, then according to Abbasi, "we are with him".
Abbasi said if Zardari provided leadership and counsel in this matter to the Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) then it would lead to "success and more success". He said that the opposition alliance was formed with an objective in mind and would not split apart.
Earlier this week, the PDM had postponed their March 26 anti-government long march due to differences over the issue of submitting en masse resignations from the assemblies.
PDM chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman had said the PPP had sought more time to reconsider its position on the issue, and till the time the PPP would come back after an in-house discussion in its Central Executive Committee (CEC), the long march stood “postponed”.
Visibly upset over the development, the Maulana had immediately left the press briefing after making a short statement. Before leaving the venue, the Maulana had said nine parties were in favour of resigning from the assemblies during the long march, but only the PPP had some “reservations over this thinking”.
During today's media briefing, Abbasi also said that former finance minister Miftah Ismail would contest the NA-249 Karachi by-election as the party's candidate.
"Right now he is the PML-N's candidate. Within the PDM it has been decided that the alliance supports whoever came in second place in the general elections. So we have full faith the PDM will support Ismail," he said.