MUZAFFARABAD: Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) vice president Maryam Nawaz on Monday maintained that Nawaz Sharif’s criticism of some individuals [in army] should not be misconstrued as criticism of the institution.

Speaking at an election rally in Leepa valley, from where AJK Prime Minister Raja Farooq Haider is in the fray, she said Nawaz Sharif was a patriot and not only the mountains of Kashmir but also his enemy bore witness to it.

“Nawaz Sharif is the son of the soil. And I want to emphasise that whoever people Nawaz Sharif inveighed against should not be dubbed as criticism of any institution,” she said.

“And if Pakistan has to embark on the path to progress these institutions will have to follow the narrative of Nawaz Sharif,” she stressed.

Referring to her Neelum visit, she expressed her profound affection for the army soldiers, by saying she saw in each of them her only son Mohammad Junaid.

“They are maintaining a vigil here, defending us while being away and disconnected from their homes,” she said, regretting that the soldiers were also bearing the brunt of the unprecedented dearness in the country due to the “incompetence of Imran Khan”.

She maintained that the vested interests would launch propaganda against Nawaz Sharif that “perhaps he is against the institution of the army”.

“They should feel ashamed of themselves, because whenever the salaries of the Pakistan army were raised it was in Nawaz Sharif’s tenure,” she said.

She recalled that when Nawaz Sharif was in power, the PML-N had clinched two-thirds majority in AJK but despite ruthless spending of official resources the PTI appeared unable to achieve even a simple majority.

“They had been eyeing the PML-N lawmakers [to join their ranks]. I salute to the AJK people who refused to be bought and bowed down.”

Addressing the people of Pakistan, she said Nawaz Sharif and PML-N were consistently dubbed as ‘thieves’ but today all of those allegations stood exposed by the courts.

Since Imran Khan could not face Nawaz Sharif in the political field “because of being a cowardly person with no public support”, he managed to keep him out of the ring by hatching conspiracies, accusing him of being a thief and rigging elections, she said.

She also claimed that PM Imran colluded with the selectors to scandalise Nawaz Sharif but his own narrative rebounded on him.

She said in fact the only crime of Nawaz Sharif was the unwavering attachment of people to him.

Ms Nawaz claimed that every nook and corner of AJK she had been to was echoing with a slogan that “Go Niazi Go”, but she would prefer to say “Go Imran Go” because to her all Niazis were respectable.

Referring to a general perception that Gilgit-Baltistan and AJK voted for the same party that was in power in Islamabad in the hope of smoothly meeting their fiscal needs, Ms Nawaz told people that their livelihood was not in the hands of any federal government of Pakistan.

“Whatever budget you get from Islamabad is your right and not any charity,” she said, declaring that she and Nawaz Sharif would not let anyone deprive Kashmiris of their rights.

Earlier, AJK Premier Haider also spoke.

Published in Dawn, July 13th, 2021

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