“Displeasure” has been conveyed by the Sharifs to Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) co-chairman Asif Ali Zardari over his son’s “uncalled-for remarks” against them.
“The Sharifs – former prime minister Nawaz Sharif and Pakistan Muslim League – Nawaz (PML-N) president Shehbaz Sharif – did not like the comments of PPP chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, and conveyed their displeasure to the party [PPP]’s top leadership,” a senior PML-N leader said.
Bhutto Zardari had on Saturday declared that, like Imran Khan, PML-N supremo Nawaz Sharif had also been “selected” [by the establishment] for the post of premier.
“Before Imran Khan, Nawaz Sharif was a selected premier. Benazir Bhutto did not allow Sharif to become Ameerul Momineen (emir of Muslims) and led a vibrant opposition with just 17 members in the National Assembly (in 1997),” the PPP leader had said.
Bhutto Zardari also chided Leader of the Opposition in the National Assembly Shehbaz Sharif for his long absence from parliament: “Like the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf, the PML-N also does not give importance to parliament.”
The PML-N leader said that after the “displeasure” expressed by the Sharifs, it was expected that there would be no more “friendly fireworks” from Bhutto Zardari.
“Our party leadership has strictly directed us not to respond, as we have to go together against the PTI government,” he added.
PML-N Punjab information secretary Azma Bokhari said that Bhutto Zardari should talk about future, as there is no point in indulging in recriminations.
“The history of the PPP and other parties is before everyone. We want the PPP to focus on the poor performance of the PTI regime that has made the lives of the masses miserable through price hike, inflation, unemployment, etc, and should not do a thing that hurts the common cause of the opposition,” she said.
PPP Punjab secretary-general Chaudhry Manzor was queried on the issue, and said: “What Bilawal’s answer could have been since the answer is very much obvious based on facts.”
When told that Bhutto Zardari’s anti-Sharifs tirade might hurt the unity of the opposition, he said: “I do not think so.”
“Our party has its own politics and others have theirs. The opposition parties are agreed only on one point, and that is getting rid of the Imran Khan government,” Manzor said. “No alliance of the opposition has been formed either to oust Imran Khan through in-house change or launching a protest campaign against inflation together.”
Some PML-N leaders are of the view that Bhutto Zardari has been advised by some PPP leaders close to him that if he wants to revive the party in Punjab, he would have to “take on” the Sharifs.
“Since there is no immediate requirement of both parties to co-operate with each other for a common cause like in-house change, Bhutto Zardari set his guns on the Sharifs along with Imran Khan and PTI, to gain political mileage,” a PML-N insider said.
He said that the PPP leader believed that since the Imran Khan-led government had been given more time by the “selector”, he was engaging in “aggressive politics” in Punjab, showing no care to the party’s natural ally [the PML-N] at the moment in the face of common challenge of sending the PTI government home.
“At the moment, we want the ‘selector’ [a reference to the establishment] to stop supporting the PTI regime and give a level playing field to other parties.
“Although the selector has given a few more months to Imran Khan to deliver, we have conveyed to it that the PML-N wants only mid-term polls and nothing short of it,” he said.
Nawaz Sharif has been undergoing medical treatment in London since November last year, while Shehbaz Sharif is there to look after the former.
Sources believe that Shehbaz Sharif will return to the country only after “some arrangement” is made to oust the PTI government.
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