KARACHI: Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz President Nawaz Sharif might have let the Memogate case go, but he is still fully focused on the National Reconciliation Ordinance case.
“If money belonging to the people is looted from them and stashed away in accounts in Swiss banks, will the nation not demand that this money is returned to them?” Nawaz said at a joint news conference with Mumtaz Bhutto, chairman of the Sindh National Front (SNF) Mumtaz Bhutto.
The statement comes hours after the Supreme Court framed contempt of court charges against Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani, for failing to write a letter to Swiss authorities despite court instructions in the NRO case.
Talking about the letter, which has become a bone of contention between the judiciary and the government, Nawaz said that the people must be explained what the significance of this letter is. The letter, he said, should say that this money belongs to the people of Pakistan and it is their demand that this money is brought back to their country. “The money will only be brought back if this letter is written. So why is the government unwilling to write this letter and bring the money to Pakistan?”
In a clear reference to President Asif Ali Zardari, Nawaz said that nobody in the country is willing to accept that one man who has looted all this money and refuses to bring it back is allowed to go scot-free while a prime minister becomes his scapegoat. “It must be clarified to the people what the government is committed to: the country or corruption? The prime minister has also taken oath under the constitution and should be clear on which side he is on.”
Responding to a question, Nawaz said that in supporting the government in its refusal to write the infamous letter, the coalition partners are behaving irresponsibly. “This move is completely against the aspirations of the Pakistani people and it is because of the allies’ support that the government feels that it can get away. The coalition parts, therefore, must reconsider what they are doing.”
Severely criticising the coalition partners, he said that their support to the government in this matter was unconstitutional and illegal. “Not only are they siding with the government, they are also accusing the judiciary of being partisan.”
Supporting the judiciary
The judiciary, he said, is being unfairly blamed for being partial. “Does the ordinary Pakistani citizen not want that this money is returned? That’s what the Supreme Court is also saying and hence asking for the letter to be written. Is it, then, saying something unjust?”
On the matter of presidential immunity, he said that the Supreme Court will better decide on the issue but in his view, immunity or no immunity, the people’s money must be returned to them. “The nation does not care about immunity. Even a person like me doesn’t understand it. It is the nation’s money, it should first be returned to its rightful owners and then we will talk about immunity.”
Dodging a question about whether the PML-N will take to the streets if the government-judiciary showdown continues, he said that the entire nation is with the judiciary on the matter. “The government is responsible and it has committed crimes, but is trying to blame the judiciary. This is unacceptable.”
Commenting on Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf Chairman Imran Khan’s recent statements about the PML-N, Nawaz said that those who really yearn for change do not join hands people from the status quo. “He doesn’t welcome people who are responsible for where Pakistan is today. Politicians should not have double standards.”
Asked about boycotting elections, he said that the PML-N has always maintained that it will only boycott elections if the Pakistan Peoples Party does so. “I have said since the London all-parties conference that for an effective boycott, all parties must refuse to participate in polls.”
Mumtaz Bhutto meeting
Earlier, Bhutto said that in the meeting, he and Nawaz discussed what can be a new direction for an immediate change in the dismal situation of the country. “We must search and find a solution.”
He said that there is a consensus among all political parties that this government cannot be expected to hold free and fair elections, which is why the 20th amendment has been brought in the assembly. “We discussed the formation of an interim government and its mandate,” Bhutto said.
To a question of a possible alliance between his and Nawaz’s parties, he said that his party’s reach is limited to Sindh and it operates on a one-point agenda that Pakistan should become a confederation, implying that the two parties had different agendas.