Nawaz Sharif, the eponymous chief of Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz said on Monday that he felt no qualms for whatever he did for Karachi’s peace during his time as the country’s prime minister.
“We had set up military courts for peace in Karachi. If ever I found opportunity again, I would not hesitate in doing the same (establishing military courts) for the sake of restoring peace in the megacity.
He dispelled reports that he had come to Karachi to meet President Asif Ali Zardari.
He said he was in favour of creating new provinces but these should come into being on administrative basis, and not on ethnic considerations.
Nawaz’s focus on Sindh has intensified in the past few months, and on Monday he reiterated his criticism of the government for neglecting the ‘flooded province’. The PML-N chief also told party workers to prepare for his next visit, as he looks to build a stronger support base in the province.
“Look at the villages in Sindh. There is no one to ask after them,” Nawaz said. “The country is worried today and they are against the government.”
Although he emphasised the government’s failings, Nawaz’s speech was free of the bitter recriminations that have dogged the PML-N –PPP relationship in the past. The party chief asked workers not to chant slogans for the party and even put a stop to calls of ‘Go Zardari Go’.
“Will saying this make Zardari leave?” Nawaz laughingly asked the worker who had spoken up.
The former prime minister was speaking at a meeting of the PML-N’s Sindh council, which was called today to elect a president and general secretary. Veteran PML-N leader Syed Ghous Ali Shah and Sindh chief organiser Saleem Zia were elected unopposed as they were the only candidates who filed the nomination papers to the party’s election commission.
Nawaz congratulated the two, proclaiming that “these are PML-N’s democratic traditions. If there is democracy in the party, there can be democracy in Pakistan.”
Nawaz spoke about the PML-N’s achievements in the past, including an anti-dacoit operation in the early 1990s and negotiations with the Chinese government when he was prime minister that led to the development of the JF-17 fighter aircraft.
He also made a few references to parties who “have a World XI. Musharraf’s team is growing under another roof.”
“These parties are claiming they can bring about change. The PML-N has already done that. They claim they can restore respect for the green flag and passport. Was the passport not respected when we conducted nuclear tests?”
Nawaz also addressed President Asif Zardari and Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani. “We gave you a good agenda in the form of the Charter of Democracy which Mohtarma signed. You should have at least honoured her signature,” he said. “Had you followed this agenda, you would have been re-elected.”
Published in The Express Tribune, January 3rd, 2012.