PML-N Chief Muhammad Nawaz Sharif addressing to a seminar organized by SAFMA in memory of slain journalist Saleem Shehzad on Friday. – Photo by APP

LAHORE: PML-N chief Nawaz Sharif has vowed never to allow any institution to become a sacred cow and be above the law.

“There is no sacred cow in the country and none should try to become a sacred cow as (we) won’t allow such an attempt,” he told a reference meeting held here on Friday for journalist Salim Shehzad who has been murdered in mysterious circumstances.

Without naming the army but leaving no doubt which institution he was talking about, he said (they) would have to change their mindset.

If the army wants not to be criticised it will have to remove the causes of criticism.

“End your domination of foreign policy (making) if you wish the criticism to end. Our relations should be with the Afghan people and not with a single party. There should be no parallel government (of agencies) in the country.”

He said the Kashmir cause had been damaged most by ‘our own institutions’, adding that keeping the national interest in mind he could not go into details.

The former prime minister said he was not against any institution, but the army was under the domination of a handful of people with a specific mindset.

He said there was nothing wrong in calling for a discussion on defence budget in parliament.“What is wrong with this demand?

What is there that they (the armed forces) want to conceal from their own countrymen.”

He said the army should make a pledge not to transgress its domain and if it did then it was my and other people’s duty to check it.

He vowed to organise a long march if he had to do it for the purpose.

Pledging never to compromise on principles, he said the game of holding the Constitution in abeyance, murdering journalists and dissolving judiciary would have to be ended.

Admitting that he had committed mistakes in the past, he said he had learned from those mistakes and others should follow suit.

“When all hands rise to grab someone by the collar that is time for introspection. Had those at the helm of affairs done introspection there would have been no incidents like Abbottabad and PNS Mehran.”

Urging the Supreme Court to take notice of the killing of Mr Shehzad, Mr Sharif said he and his party would be with the journalist community till the killers were brought to book.

He said he wondered why the prime minister was shying away from forming a commission to investigate the murder of Mr Shahzad, adding that the country would survive only if there was rule of law.

Human Rights activist Hina Jilani said the army was itself the biggest threat to the security of the country, adding that there should be no room in the army for soldiers who had an agenda over and above the security of the country and its citizens.

The Managing Director of Friday Times, Jugnoo Mohsin, said if Shehzad was not killed by ISI then being one of the largest secret agencies in the world it should expose the killers.

Seeking reforms in the institution of armed forces, Editor of local Urdu daily Pakistan Mujeebur Rehman Shami regretted that in the name of discipline one person (army chief) held the entire institution hostage.

Dr Akmal Hussain said people would have to unite on a single platform to get the right of telling the truth.

The meeting adopted a resolution which condemned the murder of Shehzad and formed a 22-member Media Commission “to monitor increasing attacks on media persons and defend press freedom in Pakistan”.

The commission will defend journalists under attack and pursue their cases but also audit the content of media, besides proposing a code of ethics.