ISLAMABAD: Minister for Inter-Provincial Coordination Riaz Hussain Pirzada has said that the best option for Nawaz Sharif to avoid rifts within the PML-N is to hand over the party reins to Punjab Chief Minister Shehbaz Sharif.
He also cautioned that if the ‘advice’ of Shehbaz was ignored in the current political scenario, a chaos-like situation could engulf the party in the coming days.
Speaking at the National Press Club on Thursday, the minister observed that Shehbaz should take over party affairs at least until deposed PM Nawaz Sharif cleared himself from charges of corruption.
He was responding a question related to the fast unfolding difference of opinion, in the backdrop of the Panamagate scandal, within the Sharif family in particular and the PML-N in general.
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“Shehbaz Sharif has a different working approach. He lives in the field and among the public. He rightly gauges the general public’s opinion amid current controversy and give the right and timely advice,” said Pirzada, adding that if Shehbaz’s suggestion was ignored, it would split the PML-N.
“One cannot achieve anything by keeping a rigid stance [and not listening to others],” he remarked, in an apparent reference to elder Sharif’s intensifying stance about the state institutions.
The minister mentioned that in a meeting he had advised Sharif that “when the storm gets on someone, he should sit and wait to let it die down”.
After former interior minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan, Pirzada is the latest addition to a like-minded group of senior PML-N leaders that have openly sided with Shehbaz by gently and honestly recommending Nawaz to not to indulge in the game of maligning state institutions and pass on party leadership until the corruption references have been settled.
Pirzada also used the opportunity to once again assure the concerned quarters that he has deliberately shut his eyes like a pigeon over the issue of the Intelligence Bureau letter – where he and 36 other MPs were accused of having alleged links with sectarian and militant outfits – ‘in the greater interest of his party’.
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“Our country has reached to a position where legislators sitting in parliament are being labeled as terrorists. I feel sorry to see what our institutions have done to this nation,” Pirzada said, adding what would happen if the US carried out a drone strike on parliament, and then claiming to have killed 37 terrorists sitting inside the building.
“I am pretty much clear about the matter. But, I have deliberately ignored it as it’s not good to further discuss it,” he said.
“I have seen many ups and downs during my political career but my politics revolves around ideology and emotions. My leadership may differ with my opinion but I always speak what I deem true,” Pirzada said, adding that unlike other politicians he did not require anyone’s support to win his constituency.
The minister also dismissed the idea of a caretaker setup comprising technocrats, saying it would not be feasible.
“Neither technocrats nor any institution taking over democracy in the country will serve the purpose. We only need a handful of honest and God-fearing individuals and it does not matter from where they will come – either from parliament, army, judiciary, or any other state institution,” he said.
Criticising the previous governments, including the PML-N’s, he said that the political leadership had failed to come up with the people’s expectations
“Our economic situation is that we are taking heavy loans. But its benefit is not reaching the grass roots. Ordinary citizens have been burdened with heavy indirect taxation,” he remarked.
The minister said the political leaderships and military regimes failed the nation miserably, only giving terrorism, arms, ethnic and religious tensions to Pakistanis.
“They (leaderships) imported everything – even religion – just for petty financial gains,” he said. “A person like me will only call it a heart-breaking situation,” he added.
The PML-N leader said that injustice had crossed all barriers in the country. “A judge should have the courage to do justice without any fear. But here even judges wait for someone’s order to dispense justice,” he said.
“The current situation in Pakistan is pathetic and humiliating for a person like me. I cannot tolerate it come what may, even if the PM gets angry,” deplored Pirzada.
Answering a question, Pirzada said the accountability process in the Panamagate scandal had just begun. He said in the past, several politicians faced charges of corruption, adding that every politician had to pay a price in Pakistan for taking a stand.
“It’s the court’s decision and the general public’s opinion in the wake of the decision that will decide the fate of the Sharif family,” he concluded.