Mian Nawaz Sharif, former prime minister, questioned on Tuesday the timing of the ‘grand protest’ spearheaded by the Pakistan Awami Tehreek and supported by major opposition parties.
Addressing newsmen outside the Accountability Court after attending hearing of corruption reference against him, he asked his rivals instead of launching anti-government movement they should wait for general elections that were only four to five months away and added timing of Tahirul Qadri’s return from Canada was meaningful.
“You will find answers of many questions yourself if you think about the purpose of anti-government movement,” he told a reporter while referring to the PAT’s protest which begins today in Lahore.
Nawaz wondered why “the maulana [cleric] from Canada is here at this time.” He was referring to PAT chief Dr Tahirul Qadri.
When asked about the recent change of the chief minister in Balochistan, Nawaz Sharif said the Balochistan political issue needs to be taken seriously. “This is a sick joke with the people,” said the Pakistan Muslim League-N president, adding that he has summoned a meeting with the party’s Baloch leadership on Thursday to find out why this happened.
The PML-N chief wondered how a person with 500 votes became the chief minister, adding that “this is a disservice to democracy, Pakistan and its people”.
Accompanied by his daughter Maryam, also accused in the corruption case, Federal Health Minister Saira Afzal Tarar, his political aide Senator Asif Kirmani and other party leaders, Nawaz narrated a story about a famous big-budget film in Lahore in the 1960s.
“After it was released, amid much fanfare, someone asked the producer and director how the movie was faring, to which they replied “Pehlay haftay zabardast, doosray haftay zabardasti (The first week was great but the second was forced),” said Nawaz, linking the ‘grand’ and then ‘flop’ turn of the film to his own corruption cases.
When asked about proceedings against him in the National Accountability Bureau court, Sharif said: “the media and the nation are witnesses that the case carries no weight or concrete evidence.”
“I fail to understand what is actually the case against me,” he added. Addressing reporters, he said, “you all are here every day and know how strong this case is”.
Meanwhile, Nawaz Sharif, in a consultative meeting of coalition partners in Balochistan, on Tuesday expressed serious concerns over a recent change of regime in the province.
The meeting was attended by National Party and Pashtunkhwa Milli Awami Party chiefs Hasil Bezinjo and Mehmood Khan Achakzai respectively at Punjab House in Islamabad.
The situation in the aftermath of change of chief ministers in Balochistan was reviewed. The deposed premier thanked Achakzai and Bezinjo for supporting his party in the province.
Muslim League-N has promoted politics of values rather than the politics of saving the chair, he said.
Nawaz Sharif said he preferred the coalition parties over his own after winning the 2013 election, adding that those who had shifted loyalties did not betray the party alone but the public mandate also.
“It is beyond perception as to why a member of a minority party who secured just a few hundred votes was made the chief minister,” Sharif was quoted as saying during an advisory meeting on Balochistan. He was referring to new Balochistan CM Mir Abdul Quddus Bizenjo, who replaced Zehri last week. “I have convened a meeting to probe the matter,” Sharif said.
“Dethroning a chief minister of a majority party in an engineered manner to bring forth a person whose guarantee money was nearly confiscated is a joke with the nation and democracy,” Sharif said. Nawaz Sharif also warned that machinations against his party in Balochistan could threaten the China Pakistan Economic Corridor.
“CPEC can change the fortunes of Balochistan and the Baloch people, but political anarchy carries the threat of damaging this project,” he warned. “Progress of people of Balochistan has always remained a top priority for me,” he said.
Nawaz Sharif, his daughter Maryam Nawaz and son-in-law Capt (r) Safdar appeared in the accountability court in National Accountability Bureau references on Tuesday.
During the hearing headed by Justice Mohammad Bashir, NAB Additional Director Nasir Junejo recorded his statement in Flagship reference. Nawaz Sharif’s lawyer Khawaja Harris asked him whether he was part of the inquiry against Sharif family in 2017, to which he responded with ‘yes’. A total of 13 witnesses have recorded their statements so far in three cases against the disqualified premier.