LAHORE: Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif and Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan exchanged barbs and allegations against each other on Sunday, raising political temperature in the country.
Shehbaz said a man who used to call him a thief yesterday, was sending him talks offer today. However, the PTI chief said why would he send a message to a person who himself was helpless, and had nothing to offer him.
Imran Khan, addressing the participants in the long march at Sadhoki, said, “Establishment decided to support thieves” and hence “lost the support of the people”.
“The establishment of a country should stand with the nation only,” Khan said, reiterating that PMLN supremo Nawaz Sharif was a “criminal of the nation”, while PPP Co-chairman Asif Zardari was “the biggest disease of the country.” Imran Khan said the JIT [Joint Investigation Team] of the establishment had proved Nawaz corrupt.
He told his supporters that its was the time to change their destiny and side with the truth. “These tyrants make us worship the idol of fear,” Khan said. In his address at Murdike, Imran Khan, while responding to PM Shehbaz Sharif’s claim of seeking talks on the new army chief’s appointment, said he did not talk to “boot polishers”.
“I spoke to those with whom Shehbaz hid in the trunk of the car to speak,” alleged Imran. He also questioned why he would send a message to a helpless person, who had nothing to offer him.
The former prime minister also said that he was not raised in a “military dictator’s nursery”. “I do not call Ayub Khan daddy like Zulfikar Ali Bhutto. I am not like Nawaz Sharif who build General Jilani’s home and pressed General Ziaul Haq’s knees to become a minister,” said the PTI leader.
On the Indian media’s coverage of his attack on military officials, the PTI chief told the neighbouring country’s media that his party is standing with the army. The Indian media was overjoyed that he had gone against the institutions. “But they must remember that this country and its army both are ours,” he added.
“I came to power with the people’s power not because of the establishment,” claimed Khan, adding that he only seeks rule of law in the country and the protection of the people’s rights. Continuing his attack on the coalition government, the PTI chief said that former dictator Pervez Musharraf harmed the country by giving an NRO to these parties.
Chairman PTI Imran Khan said that negotiations with the coalition government are possible only after it announces the date for early fair and free elections. Taking to Twitter, he said this is the only demand he has had for the past six months. He also rejected all rumours about the meeting in Lahore. He said the PTI long march returned because Lahore was near and it was decided that the protest march would not move at night. Meanwhile, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif, in a talk with YouTuber here, regretted that Imran Khan was spewing venom against an institution that had “raised him”. He said the PTI chief “severely attacked” the Pakistan army, adding that it was regrettable as that institution worked for the defence of Pakistan.
He reminded the audience that the institution removed all barriers to support his predecessor and gave him the support that no one got as the premier in the country’s 75-year history.
“I say it in lighter vain that had we gotten 20pc of that support, Pakistan would have skyrocketed under Mian Nawaz Sharif’s leadership,” said the PM. He added that the PTI chief “failed” despite all that support.
Giving an example of a car being pushed to start, the premier said that Khan failed despite getting all that push. He added that today the former prime minister uses Shahbaz Gill or Azam Swati to make statements against that institution.
“The things that Imran Khan is doing are not done even by an animal. Even a witch attacks after skipping three homes,” said the PM. He added that Khan would not be able to thank the institution all his life for the favours it did to him even if he tries to do it all his life.
“They raised you and did whatnot. Got money from Saudi Arabia, China, and Qatar and begged. Put everything at stake for Pakistan’s benefit,” added the premier. “This institution’s officers and troops, since Pakistan’s inception, have made numerous sacrifices, be it wars or terrorism,” said the premier. He added that the army fought against terrorism at a time when no place in the country was safe.
“Then you spew venom against such an institution. Was there an illegal action taken? Tell me was the vote of no confidence illegal or unconstitutional?” asked PM Shehbaz. He added that the former prime minister offered an extension to the army chief to ensure the failure of the vote of no-confidence that ousted him.
“He used to call me a boot polisher and whatnot. In order to defeat a constitutional action in parliament, Imran Khan made an unconstitutional offer,” added the PM. On the DG ISI Lt Gen Nadeem Anjum’s presser with the military spokesperson, PM Shehbaz confirmed that the official had taken permission from him before addressing the media.
“I have never seen a liar like Imran Khan in my life,” said PM Shehbaz. On the PTI’s looming long march, PM Shehbaz said that it was a responsibility of the elected coalition government to ensure stability in the country and would not allow anyone to create political and economic crises.
“Any attempts to enter the Red Zone would be thwarted under the relevant laws,” said the premier. Continuing his attack against the PTI chief, the prime minister said that Khan had a personal agenda, and is hell-bent on pushing the country into turmoil and economic destruction. “Unfortunately, Imran Niazi’s thinking revolves around his personal vested interests. Even he did not spare his close friends who were sidelined,” he added.