LAHORE: If Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif has disagreed with Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani, he has managed to maintain his silence.
But, in a rare occurence on Friday, Shahbaz lashed out at Gilani over remarks that the premier recently made about the Pakistan Army, saying it was a violation of the spirit of the oath that he has taken as the chief executive of the country.
The PM, speaking in the National Assembly on Thursday, made a direct reference and hit out at the military establishment, and said that a “state within [a] state will not be acceptable,” referring to the military’s dominance in the country’s affairs.
While most quarters hailed Gilani’s audacious speech, Shahbaz criticised the fact that for the first time in Pakistan’s history, a chief executive has severely censured the Pakistan Army. “He has committed treason and violated his oath.”
In a blanket criticism of the Pakistan Peoples Party leadership, Shahbaz said it was “unfortunate” that the rulers of Pakistan were using such language against its own army as has been used by the “worst enemies” of the country.
“The rulers’ anti-Pakistan statements show their deliberate efforts to strengthen the hidden and apparent hands of the country’s enemies who are hatching conspiracies against the country,” he said.
Switching his focus to Gilani, Shahbaz said that the PM’s remarks were a deliberate move to damage and harm the country’s interest to “appease” the country’s enemies. “But, the Pakistani people are well aware of the nefarious intentions of the country’s rulers and will hold them accountable.”
Sources within the PML-N say that Sharif’s written statement has been issued in a calculated manner. Shahbaz’s relationship with Gilani is considered more cordial than that PM’s relations with the rest of the Sharif family. Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz has reportedly assigned a specific role to Shahbaz – criticise President Asif Ali Zardari – and has even given Shahbaz the go-ahead to hold a public rally in Lahore on October 28, where he is expected to target Zardari.
Meanwhile, Punjab Law Minister Rana Sanaullah also took an aim at Gilani, saying that he should mend his bad governance instead of criticising the Pakistan Army. “The chief executive has full powers and instead of issuing statements against the army, he should have terminated the extensions in the tenures of the army and ISI chiefs,” he said, adding that Gilani should address party matters before questioning the credibility of the country’s institutions.