Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry on Saturday said PML-N supremo Nawaz Sharif and former Afghan president Ashraf Ghani were living the same kind of life today.
Talking to the media in Jhelum, Chaudhry said: "Today Nawaz Sharif and Ashraf Ghani are spending the same kind of life because when you're not connected with the soil then you spend the kind of life as they are — one is lying in London and the other in Dubai.
"Both have gone abroad with bags full of dollars so this is a misfortune [and] lesson for those people who are in politics but are not connected to their land. Today the condition of such people is before us."
The information minister continued his criticism of the PML-N supremo, saying that his response to the arrest of Indian spy Kulbhushan Jadhav was inadequate.
"You can guess how shameless people have been rulers in Pakistan who did not have the ability to look beyond their own feet except for accumulating money and inviting Narendra Modi to weddings — apart from this they did no constructive work."
In contrast, he said, Prime Minister Imran Khan represented the feelings of the nation on a host of issues from Afghanistan to the Kashmir dispute to environmental concerns and corruption in poor countries.
"The way [last] night he presented the Kashmir issue in the UN, the way he called out Narendra Modi, this has never happened before."
The information minister said the only political party with a presence in all quarters and regions was the PTI, predicting that it would form the next government with a two-thirds majority.
He said the PPP and PML-N had "completely scattered" and could not find willing contestants for their tickets. Chaudhry claimed that PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari had offered Rs50 million to people during his visit to South Punjab to contest from the PPP's ticket while the PML-N was also subject to internal power struggles, according to him.
"You will see that this [next] election will be the last for the PML-N and the PPP and they won't be in a position to contest. The PTI and Imran Khan are going to make the next government with a great majority."
'Won't consult Shehbaz on NAB chief'
Chaudhry said the government would not consult PML-N President Shehbaz Sharif on the appointment of the new National Accountability Bureau chairman.
Responding to a question on disputes with other institutions, he acknowledged that "sometimes differences come up" but added that issues with the Election Commission of Pakistan were moving towards improvement.
"We don't have a personal quarrel with the [chief] election commissioner or other election personnel so the hope is the situation there will improve."
'Success of public diplomacy'
Chaudhry said as the Afghan issue evolved and Pakistan's global repute rose, "the international leadership is looking to Imran Khan and Pakistan for all regional decisions which is a moment of pride for us."
Addressing those individuals who were "jealous" of this success and Pakistan's government and institutions being on the same page, he said: "You will spend the next five to seven years crying like this too."
Regarding the recent tour cancellations by England and New Zealand's cricket boards, he praised the government response in light of the two developments. "Previously, governments used to only make contacts with leaders [...] but Imran Khan talks to the public internationally as well," Chaudhry said.
"There has been news reported about the UK prime minister that he also expressed his anger so I think this is a success of public diplomacy that we presented all these things before the people.
"The people are fair whether they are of UK or US or ours. It is the establishments which play their games so we talk to the people," Chaudhry said.
Reacting sharply to the information minister's comments, PML-N Information Secretary Marriyum Aurangzeb termed them "ridiculous", and said the statements by the "hired spokesperson" only elicited pity instead of laughter.
"The reality is that Shehbaz Sharif is the leader of the opposition. The reality is that Imran Khan made false cases against Shehbaz Sharif," Aurangzeb claimed.
She alleged that the prime minister had pressured the former director general of the Federal Investigation Agency to make false cases against the PML-N president and similarly used NAB against the opposition.
"The reality is that not a single allegation of Imran Khan has been proved."
She claimed that the premier was wanted in various cases as well as a defamation suit by Shehbaz.
Regarding consultation for the appointment of the NAB chief, she said it was a "requirement of the Constitution", not of a matter of the prime minister's intentions or personal likes and dislikes.
"Consultation with the opposition leader is not a matter of Imran sahab's will but a demand of the Constitution and the law.
"If a decision is taken without consultation with the opposition leader [then] it will be unconstitutional and illegal," she said.