LAHORE: Nawaz Sharif’s rhetoric seems to grow more confident by the day. The PML-N president said on Wednesday that the present government could be ousted from power if its coalition with the PML-Q breaks down – through the peaceful means of constitutional change in parliament.
Sharif expressed his views during a sitting of the Council of National Affairs, a Lahore-based think tank, in Jaati Umra, Raiwind.
Sharif’s confidence is justified, if some people are to be believed. Sources in the PML-N told The Express Tribune that a second tier of PML-Q leaders has given assurances the party will join the PML-N. Apparently, the PML-N has applied pressure on the PML-Q to withdraw support for the government, which is paying off. The sources also said that the PML-N, with the support of the PML-Q, will bring a no-confidence motion against the incumbent government.
Sharif himself confirmed there had been some contact with the PML-Q, but quashed rumours he had recently met PML-Q president Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain. He said that the last time the two met was at the All Parties Conference (APC).
Sharif heaped further criticism on the government with a litany of complaints. He said that the mistakes made by former president General Pervez Musharraf in the war on terrorism have continued under the present government. In contrast, he stated, the PML-N is ready to help extricate Pakistan from this situation.
Referring to the APC, Nawaz called on the government to implement resolutions; a failure to do so would render the exercise futile. He also said that PML-N’s protest over energy crisis would spread across the country.
Sharif questioned the integrity of President Zardari, stating that after the February 2008 elections, the PML-N started a political journey of cooperation with sincerity, only for President Zardari to violate the Bhurban agreement of March 2008 and the Islamabad agreement of August in the same year, creating mistrust between the two parties. Nawaz also criticised the government’s approach towards the judiciary.
Asked about his links with religious extremists, Nawaz said “I’m neither secular nor extremist, but a moderate.” He also said he is not influenced by any particular group or organization with regard to relations with India, but he did want a peaceful resolution to the Kashmir issue. In an apparent dig at Musharraf, Sharif added that the adventurism of Kargil had sabotaged this process.
Regarding Imran Khan, Nawaz admitted that the former cricketer’s Tehreek-e-Insaf party would harm the PML-N’s vote bank in Punjab, thus indirectly benefiting the PPP. Although he also rebuked Khan for making unfavourable remarks about other party leaders in public, Nawaz did mention that the Punjab government has given a piece of land to Shaukat Khanam Hospital and provided Rs50 million to assist with construction.
Published in The Express Tribune, October 6th, 2011.