KARACHI: Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) Vice President Maryam Nawaz has opposed the charter of economy proposed by her uncle and party President Shehbaz Sharif, saying that her father Nawaz Sharif, their supreme leader, will have the final say in the matter and there are no rifts within the party.
“I opposed the idea of the charter of economy because I don’t think we should sign an agreement with those who came to power through the backdoor,” said the PML-N leader in an interview on Express News show ‘To The Point’ with Mansoor Ali Khan on Saturday.
“I don’t agree with [party president] Shehbaz Sharif sahib’s views on the matter but that’s my personal opinion,” she added. “Mian sahib [Nawaz Sharif] is the supreme authority in the party and he will make the final call on the issue. His decision will be binding upon everyone in the party, including Shehbaz Sharif sahib.”
However, Maryam insisted that her statement should not be misconstrued as a split in the party.
“There should be no doubt about this. There have been attempts to create a division in the Sharif family for the last 30 years but all of them have been in vain,” she said.
“If Shehbaz Sharif sahib had followed a narrative different than that of Nawaz Sharif, he would have become the prime minister of the country.”
The PML-N vice president accused the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) of spreading false rumours about a power struggle in the Sharif family.
“The PTI has failed to resolve the crises faced by the country. That’s why it has resorted to such cheap tactics.”
Speaking on the commission formed to probe into the country’s debt pile-up in the last 10 years, Maryam said the body should also be authorised to investigate the first 10 months of the current government as well as the tenure of former military ruler Gen (retd) Pervez Musharraf.
“I don’t think anyone will cooperate with the commission because it’s more of a joint investigation team (JIT),” she added.
On her recent meeting with Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, the PML-N leader said it was only a reciprocal gesture to his iftar-dinner last month and did not involve politics.
She rejected rumours that the party leadership was not taken into confidence over the meeting. “The party president was briefed about it first.”
To a question, Maryam also refuted claims that she was critical of the country’s army.
“I am not against any institution, but I believe that the army should not be dragged into politics or used for political motives.”
On a query about the infamous Dawn leaks, Maryam said she had nothing to do with the National Security Council meetings as her father was the prime minister. However, she conceded that on her directives, the party’s media cell tried defending the PML-N government. “But we did not malign any state institution in the process,” she maintained.
Towards the conclusion of the interview, she was asked about her controversial statement in connection with the Panamagate case. “I still stand by my words,” she said. “I don’t own any property in London. My properties in Pakistan are worth around Rs1 billion.”
‘Charter is a joke’
Earlier in the day, Maryam stirred up a hornets’ nest, saying that the charter of economy proposed by her uncle and party president was a joke as no agreement should be signed with the PTI government, which had “stolen the people’s mandate” and “ruined the economy”.
“The charter of economy is a Mazaaq-e-Maeeshat [a joke with the economy],” the PML-N leader said at a news conference in Lahore.
She said that she did not agree with letting the government off the hook for pushing the country into an economic meltdown.
“Signing an agreement with someone [Prime Minister Imran Khan] who has destroyed the country’s economy and made life miserable for the people is tantamount to giving him an NRO,” she maintained.
“He [the prime minister] has left the economy in shambles because of his incompetence and now wants the opposition’s endorsement [through the charter of economy] so he can get away with it.”
She said that the prime minister should be answerable to the people for his poor performance himself and any opposition party that supported him would be participating in the “crime”.
Maryam said the party president was far more experienced than she was and “must have taken matters into consideration” – which she was unable to grasp — when he proposed the charter of economy.
However, the PML-N leader said that she had the right to express her opinion as a party member and conveyed her reservations over the issue to the party president during the meetings as well.
Maryam later took to Twitter to clarify that there were no differences between her and her uncle.
She maintained that there were no differences between her and the party president and “this wish of our opponents will never be fulfilled”.
“These are my personal views. Those trying to project it as a dispute will be disappointed,” she wrote.
During her news conference, Maryam said her father Nawaz Sharif had suffered a third heart attack in the Adiala Jail last year and it had been concealed from the family.
She showed a discharge certificate according to which her father had suffered a heart attack in July last year and that the government and jail authorities had displayed negligence.
Recalling the incident, Maryam said when she and her father were in jail last year, she had been asked to convince Nawaz to go to the hospital but he had initially refused because he did not want to leave her alone in jail.
“I was worried and could sense something was wrong but I was not told anything. I was asked to convince my father to go to the hospital but he was reluctant to leave me alone. My father’s cardiologist was also called from Lahore to check on his health,” she added.
The PML-N leader said she was not informed what had happened to him except that he had been in CCU for two to three days.
Maryam read out the discharge report from the hospital and asked why her father had not received relief from courts because of his medical condition even though they had all the reports.
“According to the advice of medical professionals, my father is in need of another bypass and if his health deteriorates, all those involved will be held responsible.”
Maryam claimed that meetings with Nawaz were also being monitored. “When I went to meet him there was a man there and when we asked he said he was assigned to overlook the meeting. Even prisoners are supposed to have some rights.”
To a question, she claimed a doctor who examined her father had told her that every word of their report was being monitored and the severity of Nawaz’s health was deliberately understated in the report because they were “afraid of losing their jobs”.
She said that the six-week reprieve given to Nawaz was only enough for conducting tests and a bypass surgery could not be performed.
“Mian sahib [Nawaz] needs to undergo a number of surgeries and all that could not be done in the six weeks he was out of jail,” she added.
“This is not Egypt and Nawaz is not Mohamad Morsi,” she said, adding that Imran Khan stood defeated.
Taking exception to security officers being present during her meeting with Nawaz, Maryam said that the move was in clear violation of basic prisoner rights.
“This clearly shows that Nawaz has won the public’s mandate and vindicates our stance against the incumbent government.”
To another question, she said that her brother would return to Pakistan when “justice is dispensed to them”.
Commenting on the public debt commission, Maryam maintained that the PTI-led government had tainted the credulity of the body by including members of the National Accountability Bureau (NAB), ISI and MI.
“Why would you want to include members of NAB in the commission if it [NAB] is an independent body?”
Watch the full interview here: