• Nawaz blames former CJP, COAS, ISI chief for ‘lodging false cases, bringing misery on people’
• PML-N agrees to seat adjustment with IPP for polls
• PTI says ‘convicted’ ex-PM eyeing to regain power ‘through deal’

LAHORE: PML-N supreme leader Nawaz Sharif has hinted that he is in no mood to eschew the demand of holding former generals and judges accountable “for ruining the country” by ousting him as prime minister in 2017.

Mr Sharif’s remarks, made during the party’s parliamentary board meeting on Friday, were the first instance since his arrival on October 21 when he hinted that he was not ready to give up his accountability narrative.

“We do not have a desire to come into power, become prime minister and chief minister and roam around in luxury cars … We want accountability of those who ruined this country, lodged false cases against us and brought misery on people through unprecedented inflation and price hike,” Mr Sharif said while addressing the board’s meeting in Model Town.

Continuing his polemic, the three-time prime minister said those who “brought agony on 250 million people of this country must face accountability”.

Blaming former ISI director general

Lt Gen Faiz Hamid for his alleged role in rigging the 2018 elections, the PML-N leader said: “[Retired] Gen Faiz told former Islamabad High Court Justice Shaukat Aziz Siddiqui not to grant bail to me and my daughter Maryam Nawaz because if we are released, his [Hamid’s] hard work of two years will be wasted.”

Mr Nawaz added that in a leaked audio conversation, former chief justice Saqib Nisar “could be heard saying that Nawaz should be kept in jail to bring Imran Khan to power”.

He was referring to the audio clip leaked in 2021, in which a voice, allegedly of the former chief justice, can be heard saying that Mr Sharif “has to be punished” as it has been decided to “bring Khan sahab [Imran Khan to power].”

“During the tenure of Saqib Nisar, the country’s biggest corruption scam of £190m against Imran Khan came to the fore … but he did not take any action,” the PML-N supremo said.

“We have to tell the people who looted them and brought misery to their lives,” he said and added that Pakistan was currently going through a difficult time “only because of our follies”.

Referring to former generals and judges, he said: “We punished people who were serving the country and imposed Imran Khan, who played havoc with the lives of people.”

Mr Sharif also blamed the ex-PTI chief for “misleading the youth, destroying the society and misusing the tag of Riasat-i-Madina for his politics”.

Mr Sharif’s remarks took many by surprise as a similar statement in September had put his party into a predicament.

A month before his return to Pakistan, Mr Sharif, while talking to reporters in London, had accused former chief justices Saqib Nisar and Asif Saeed Khosa of being “tools of former army chief Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa and the ex-ISI head”.

“Pardoning them will be an injustice to the nation. They don’t deserve pardon,” Mr Sharif had proclaimed while vowing to hold them accountable.

After the PML-N supremo’s outburst, his younger brother, Shehbaz Sharif, rushed to London to convince him to “tone down his stance”. The party, back then, feared the ‘accountability narrative’ might draw the establishment’s ire.

The renewed aggression in Mr Sharif’s statement is also being linked to his uneasiness over the ladla (blue-eyed) tag. His opponents have accused the party of being the military establishment’s ‘favourite’, and the fresh stance might be an effort to counter this impression.

PTI ‘will burry’ PML-N’s politics

Reacting to Mr Sharif’s tirade against their former party head, PTI also lashed out at their nemesis, saying “the nation has rejected Project Nawaz’ and claimed the party “will bury PML-N’s politics once and for all on Feb 8.”

Calling Mr Sharif a ‘convicted absconder’, a PTI spokesperson said those who had been “ruthlessly looting the country and the nation for the past 40 years were preparing to rob the national resources again by striking a deal to grab power”.

Alliance with IPP

In a separate development, PML-N and Istehkam-i-Pakistan Party (IPP) have agreed to a formula for seat adjustment in the upcoming elections.

In a meeting between IPP’s patron-in-chief Jahangir Tareen and PML-N president Shehbaz Sharif on Thursday, the two parties decided to contest the elections together.

Official sources said PML-N was initially reluctant to go for seat adjustments with both IPP and PML-Q in Punjab as it wanted to accommodate its leaders. However, sources claimed the Sharifs had to follow directions from the powers that be.

“After the Shehbaz-Tareen meeting, a PML-N delegation comprising Sardar Ayaz Sadiq, Rana Sanaullah and Saad Rafique reached the residence of JKT to work out the modalities regarding seat adjustment on Friday,” a PML-N statement said.

Sources said IPP wanted “a good number of national and provincial assembly seats”, which the PML-N couldn’t afford to offer.

“The seat-adjustment process will be more complicated with IPP than PML-Q because the latter may be satisfied with a few seats,” they said. IPP’s Central Information Secretary Firdous Ashiq Awan said her party allied with PML-N “for the country and people”.

Published in Dawn, December 9th, 2023

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