By Murtaza Ali Shah
LONDON: Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) Quaid Nawaz Sharif accused President Asif Al Zardari of harming the country and stopped short of saying that Zardari and Pakistan could not co-exist but said the PPP leader was responsible for all the prevailing political and socio-economic problems of the country.
In a no hold barred news conference in London on Sunday, Nawaz Sharif asked Zardari to stop saving his looted millions and apologise to the Pakistani nation. At his press conference here, Nawaz Sharif came out knuckle-bare against the president of Pakistan and accused him of being behind the current crisis Pakistan was facing and alleged that President Zardari was only interested in saving his looted wealth and was bringing the whole country down with him – for his personal greed.
The PML-N chief said that Zardari had breached all the promises and agreements in the past and he could not be trusted with anything and said he didn’t mean it. Nawaz Sharif admitted that he was finding it at his own cost that President Zardari could not be trusted at all.
He said the Supreme Court had sought a written statement from the PM because the government had lost credibility. He said Zardari was the main cause of confrontation with the judiciary because he was facing Swiss cases and other rules of law. He said Zardari neverwanted to restore the judges but had a complete “setting” with the Dogar Court, the nickname for the Supreme Court headed by Justice Abdul Hameed Dogar.
He blamed the president for all the ills afflicting Pakistan today and said that he should not exploit the country for his own benefits. He believed that if Zardari had not mismanaged politics, economy and the national interests of the country for his personal motives, the situation in the country would be altogether different.
Nawaz said that Pakistan was in a difficult situation and it was a high time to save the country but minced no words in saying that Zardari and his chosen ones didn’t have any solution to take the country out of the current morass.
Nawaz suggested that all the political parties should join hands and set a 25-year new social charter with a consensus for the survival and progress of the country, saying that it would be called the Charter of Pakistan and would be a step ahead from the Charter of Democracy (CoD).
He said the new charter would be binding on all that no one would support dictatorship and believed that the new charter would bring a new ray of hope for the disappointed nation and said that he was mentally ready to sign the new national contract and termed it the only way forward.
Nawaz said the new charter should include foreign policy, Kashmir solution, price hike, education, health, terrorism and other important issues. Nawaz said the new charter would be a step forward from the CoD he and slain leader Benazir Bhutto had signed but which had not been implemented and which Nawaz accused Zardari of trampling upon it in total arrogance and in complete humiliation of the wishes of his late wife. He heaved a sigh of relief, saying that he had signed the CoD with Benazir Bhutto and not Asif Ali Zardari.
Nawaz Sharif was of the firm view that returning the wealth from foreign bank accounts to Pakistan would improve things and expressed the hope that Pakistani nation would forgive President Zardari for doing so. Otherwise, he warned the president, there was no salvation as the corruption charges – and Zardari’s own guilty conscience that he had plundered the national wealth – would continue to haunt the president and he would never have peace of mind.
Nawaz Sharif said he accepted the mandate of the PPP despite knowing that the polls were heavily rigged against his PML-N but he chose the path of reconciliation in the interest of the survival and continuation of the democratic process.
Nawaz Sharif was frank in warning the president that the path of confrontation he had taken against the judiciary – including the leading media house – would not take him anywhere and he was bound to cost him very dearly. In a no hold barred attack, Nawaz attacked Zardari again and again for being greedy and for being possessed by his personal motives and nothing else and feared that Zardari was out to harm the federation.
He accused President Zardari’s top lieutenants and some of the closest advisers of misleading the president and pushing him to the brink. He told the president that these advisers were motivated by self-interest and would be the first ones to abandon him in his difficult time.
Nawaz said Zardari had not honoured a single promise he had made and said that he took out his ministers from the coalition cabinet after realising that Zardari had no regard for any of the promises he had made.
“We had entered into the coalition government with noble hopes of introducing democracy, good governance and prosperity and economic stability of Pakistan and accountability of those who had devastated Pakistan for nearly eight years.
“We wanted accountability of those who killed Nawab Akbar Bugti, those who brought loadshedding and economic mismanagement to Pakistan, those who had handed over Pakistani citizens to foreign countries, and those who had arrested judges and attacked the courts,” Nawaz said, regretting that none of this was done by President Zardari.
Directly addressing President Zardari, the former premier and the PML-N leader said: “Believe me Mr Zardari, if only you had fulfilled your promises, you would not be in the mess you find yourself in today, and Pakistan would not be in its current state. If the independent judiciary had been restored and the process of accountability started, there would be a better government in place and Pakistan would have started with a clean slate.”
He also made a clandestine attack on Army generals who believed in launching political adventures and by this Nawaz clearly meant the likes of Pervez Musharraf. He said he would not allow the insult of institutions and politicians by those who didn’t care for institutions and the Constitution and killed politicians such as Nawab Akbar Bugti because they didn’t like them personally.
He blamed Asif Ali Zardari for the current unrest in Balochistan and said that 100 percent peace would return to the province if the killers of Nawab Bugti were brought to justice.
The PML-N leader said the government’s failure was not the failure of the democratic process because what Mr Zardari and his close friends were doing had nothing democratic about them and it had everything to do with nepotism and corruption. He said he would not be a part of any effort against the democratic system.
Nawaz alleged that President Zardari never accepted the reinstatement of the superior court judges wholeheartedly and never respected the decisions the court was making. He alleged that Dogar courts were Zardari’s favourite idea of the justice system and he was a witness. He advised Zardari to learn to respect the judiciary and the institutions of the country.