In an interesting twist to the ongoing political wrangling, PML-N supremo Nawaz Sharif has said that he had never issued any ‘ultimatum’ to the PPP-led government — and that he had only called on Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani to act more aggressively as his powers had been restored under the 18th constitutional amendment.
On January 4, Sharif had spelled out a 10-point agenda asking the government to reply ‘yes or no’ within three days, or else face expulsion of its ministers from the Punjab cabinet. Later that evening, the deadline was extended by three days due to the assassination of Punjab Governor Salmaan Taseer.
But on Monday he seemed to backtrack on his statement. “The word ultimatum does not exist in my dictionary,” Sharif told a news conference at his Raiwind estate on Monday. “I never used the word ultimatum,” he added, squarely putting the blame on the media for putting the word in his mouth.
But political analysts believe the change in Sharif’s tone occurred after the MQM decided to rejoin the ruling coalition, putting the PML-N in an awkward position.
Sharif, however, reiterated his ambitious 10-point agenda at Monday’s news conference. “This agenda is the other name for change,” he said and added that if implemented, it would usher in an era of prosperity in the country.
Sharif said his party would submit the agenda to the PPP government in a couple of days. And a four-member committee has been formed for the purpose. Senator Ishaq Dar will head the committee which will include Sardar Mehtab Abbasi, Pervaiz Rashid and Abdul Qadir Baloch as its members.
On Sunday, Premier Gilani spoke to Sharif over the phone and assured him that the government would “I am thankful to the prime minister for his telephone call and for his ‘yes’ to the PML-N agenda,” Sharif told the news conference.
The government has already withdrawn the increase in prices of petroleum products and Sharif said his party want it to put an end to electricity and gas load-shedding, once and for all.
Asked about the appointment of new governor in Punjab, Sharif said that he did not discuss the matter with the prime minister in Sunday’s call.
He rejected the allegations of horse-trading against his party. “My party does not believe in politics of blackmail and horse-trading,” he added.
Sharif said Pakistan is passing through one of the worst crises of its history and foreign newspapers are calling Pakistan the most dangerous country in the world. He stressed the need for collective efforts to steer the country out of troubled waters.
Sharif said that his party did not want midterm elections rather it wanted the PPP-led government to complete its five-year constitutional tenure.
Military dictators, who had overthrown elected governments in the past in the name of reform, had miserably failed. And subsequent martial laws destroyed the country, he added.
Published in The Express Tribune, January 11th, 2011.
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