The chief of Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz is showing little sign of easing up on his criticism of Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani, lacerating his opponent with threats and challenges.
As his party ratchets up pressure on the premier to relinquish his post voluntarily, Nawaz Sharif said on Saturday that Gilani “is no longer the chief executive” of the country. “Gilani will have to accept the people’s verdict. If he doesn’t, then the people will make him accept their verdict,” Nawaz told his supporters at a rally in Gujranwala. He was referring to Premier Gilani’s conviction by the apex court in a contempt case.
Recalling his party’s long march in 2009, the PML-N chief said that the people had “forced the government” to accept their verdict for the reinstatement of dozens of judges sacked by former military ruler Pervez Musharraf.
“The incumbent rulers are following in the footsteps of Musharraf in their treatment of the judiciary,” he said.
The PML-N chief warned that his party would not hesitate to mount another campaign for safeguarding the judiciary.
Nawaz also hit out at the government for the ballooning energy crisis, deadly insurgencies, endemic poverty and corruption, inflation and other economic woes.
According to him, the country’s troubles could be traced after his constitutional government was toppled in October 1999 by Musharraf and he was incarcerated.
“My era was the golden period. Economically, Pakistan had leapfrogged India to become an Asian tiger,” he said and added that he sincerely wanted to serve the country and its people.
The PML-N chief alleged that the “corrupt rulers” are brazenly squandering taxpayers’ money. “(Premier) Gilani and his 80-strong entourage enjoyed a trip to the UK at state expense,” he said, comparing his personally-funded trips abroad as premier with Gilani’s tours.
Interior Minister Rehman Malik has accused Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif’s government in Punjab of corruption. Without naming Malik, the elder Sharif said it was a proverbial ‘pot-calling-the-kettle-black situation’.
Accusing the PPP-led government of “unprecedented corruption”, Nawaz said that every day new corruption scandals involving ministers were surfacing. “These are ominous signs,” warned Nawaz, adding that he and his party would be in the vanguard if the country’s integrity was put at stake.
Addressing the youth in particular, Nawaz said that he had faith in them because he believed that they could steer the country out of present crises.
“Nawaz Sharif is still young. His determination is young,” he said. “We are determined to build a new Pakistan. Together we will make a new Pakistan,” he said adding that he was not asking for votes.
Published in The Express Tribune, May 20th, 2012.