Two weeks after Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif implied that he was being threatened by President Asif Zardari, the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) Opposition Leader in the Punjab Assembly (PA) Raja Riaz claimed on Wednesday that he was getting death threats from the chief minister.
Addressing a press conference in the PA committee room, Riaz said that he had got repeated threats from Sharif because he kept addressing him as ‘ziddi bacha’ (spoilt child) and ‘Mughal badshah’ (Mughal emperor). He said that he would not get scared that easily and would continue to criticise the Sharifs for their bad governance in Punjab.
Sources in the PPP told The Express Tribune that party leaders, after considering how to respond to Sharif’s statement, had decided to unleash Riaz as a counter to the chief minister.
During a visit to Bahawalpur two weeks ago, the chief minister said that he was not afraid of death and that President Zardari could not scare him into not speaking out about or acting against the corruption of the PPP government.
Soon after, PPP leader and close Zardari confidante Babar Awan told a press conference that the government was taking Sharif’s statement seriously and had suggested to the Supreme Court that it conduct an investigation into the claims. No such judicial commission has been formed yet.
At Wednesday’s press conference, Riaz said that the departments that the chief minister was in personally in charge of had suffered the most. He said that the PPP Punjab supported the PPP Core Committee’s decision to oppose army deployment on the streets of Karachi. He said that the party was talking to its allies and was hopeful that peace would return to Karachi through the efforts of Police and Rangers. He said that President Zardari was working to solve the problem.
He said that the law and order situation in Punjab was deteriorating and the crime rate was increasing. He said that Shahbaz Sharif was destroying the province’s institutions through his “dictatorial mentality”.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 25th, 2011.