Chief of his own faction of the Pakistan Muslim League (PML-N) Nawaz Sharif on Saturday said that unlike his government in 1998, the incumbents have failed to save Pakistan from being ‘terrorised’ and ‘isolated’.
The PML-N chief was addressing a number of gatherings in Lahore to mark the 13th anniversary of Pakistan’s nuclear tests and in Sargodha where he inaugurated the Aashyana Housing Scheme and a degree college.
Sharif, who was the prime minister when Pakistan first responded to India’s nuclear tests in 1998, said that nine of the 13 years passed since the nuclear tests were under a dictator regime.
He said that out of the 63 years of the country’s history, 33 were spent under martial laws and as a result democracy never flourished.
Highlighting the day’s importance, he said that his government had been offered “a $5 billion economic package” to give up the nuclear programme, but they decided to persist.
Sharif added that at that time, the international community had tried to persuade him to discontinue the programme, but he refused to bow down and was not swayed by the lure of money.
He said that the then US President Bill Clinton made five calls to him, while the UK’s Tony Blair contacted him twice.
The PML-N chief said that he had saved the county in 1998 from becoming an isolation state, something the incumbent government has failed to do, he added.
‘Accountability as the way forward’
Nawaz also urged the people to agitate against the government if it failed to establish an independent commission to investigate the May 2 Abbottabad raid as well as the PNS Mehran attack.
Sharif said that the government was disregarding the joint resolution passed by parliament on the May 2 incident.
He said that only way forward for Pakistan is to hold the people responsible for the incident accountable.
Accusing the government of having failed in safeguarding the country’s sovereignty, he said that on the one hand, the country’s sovereignty was being violated by the US, while on the other, the government is applauding it.
Nawaz added that the people should support him in his efforts to extricate the country “out of isolation and out of a situation where the army and the police are selflessly sacrificing their lives, but are being portrayed as criminals before the world”. He also said that it was the right of the people to oust an ‘incompetent’ government. The party chief said that through accountability and inquiry of the two incidents, PML-N with the support of the people will protect the country from terrorism.
He also warned the army that democracy, despite all its flaws could right itself. He said that through democracy the nation has forced “dictator Musharraf out of the country”, reinstated an independent judiciary and ensured freedom of the press.
Published in The Express Tribune, May 29th, 2011.