Leader of the Opposition in the National Assembly Shehbaz Sharif said on Monday that he was "really concerned" with the way Prime Minister Imran Khan was "using religion as a cover-up for the massive governance and economic breakdown" in the country, which he attributed to the latter's policies.
"Such a self-serving approach will wreak greater damage upon the polity than is being understood," he said on Twitter.
Shehbaz's criticism came hours after an article penned by the premier titled 'Spirit of Riyasat-i-Madina: Transforming Pakistan' was published in which he talked about the five basic tenets of Islam and how, in order for the country to realise its potential, society will have to struggle to embody these principles as a nation.
While PTI ministers were singing the premier's praises, opposition leaders were quick to chastise PM Imran for his views on governance and running the country.
Akbar S. Babar — a founding but dissident member of the PTI — said that in the article, PM Imran had claimed that the "spirit of Riyasat-i-Madina" rested on ensuring rule of law.
"True, but that 'spirit' died and was buried on October 10, 2019 when the Election Commission of Pakistan in a written order termed the PTI's delaying tactics in the foreign funding case as [a] 'historic abuse of law'," he said.
PML-N's Marriyum Aurangzeb said PM Imran was trying to take "unfair advantage" of Islam and its sacred reforms, calling him a "religious exploiter".
The premier writing an article on the state of Madina is equivalent to a thief who hides inside a mosque when he is caught, she said in a series of tweets. PM Imran is exploiting sacred words such as Madina and Islam to hide his own incompetency and thievery, she added.
She went on to say that only a person like PM Imran, who was "stubborn, arrogant, shameless and in denial", could pen such an article.
Aurangzeb said that the prime minister had negated the principles of Islam and the state of Madina at each and every step during the last three years, adding that the article was proof of the fact that it was now time for him to "start worrying and go home".
Senior PML-N leader Ahsan Iqbal said that all "crooked and corrupt politicians, cartels and mafias" were serving in the premier's cabinet.
"Sugar mafia, flour mafia, pharmaceutical mafia, furnace oil mafia, dollar mafia, smugglers mafia and hoarding mafia are being patronised by your government Mr Niazi. Who are you fooling?" he asked.