LONDON: Former premier Nawaz Sharif has challenged Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) chief Imran Khan to explain who ordered him to vote for Asif Ali Zardari’s candidate in recent Senate elections and what were his motivations behind voting for PPP’s electoral symbol – arrow.
Speaking to media here after holding talks with Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi and former finance minister Ishaq Dar, Nawaz referred to Jamaat-e-Islami leader Sirajul Haq’s statement in which he said that Pervez Khattak had told him that the PTI was “ordered from the top” to vote for Sadiq Sanjrani and PPP’s Saleem Mandviwala for the Senate chairman and deputy chairman’s posts.
The former premier said that by voting for the PPP, Imran Khan proved that he and other political parties have always been looking for “orders from the top”, while the PML-N is the only party that takes dictation from the people of Pakistan.
Nawaz said the Senate chairman and deputy chairman stand discredited given the way the Balochistan Assembly and his party were taken over and then in the manner the Senate elections were held, and after confession by the PTI of horse-trading.
He said that he’s being targeted and put under immense pressure, but he’s not the one who will stay out of Pakistan and will not leave the country for “there is difference between me and Pervez Musharraf.” Nawaz argued that the current situation is definitely a “difficult time” for him and “I can’t tell why it’s difficult and what are the reasons, and I will perhaps not speak about that” but he will face the situation.
The former premier said that he appears before the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) court five times a week despite the fact that he has committed no corruption of any kind while others involved in NAB probes get to have their hearings once in three months or so.
“Tell me what kind of case is this against me? Is there any precedent of such a case by the NAB? Is there any such example in the history of Pakistan?” asked Nawaz, adding that all the NAB’s cases are related to commissions, misuse of public money, kickbacks on contracts, misuse of public office and financial corruption but the case against him had no such allegation.
Nawaz said that all these cases were politically motivated and “all these efforts were being made ahead of next elections to deny Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz a level playing field.”
He lamented that he was facing unprecedented censorship in media, and his speeches and their contents have been banned. The former premier termed it “pre-poll rigging” and said he was hopeful that the nation would stop it with full force through use of vote.
“Use the next elections as a referendum and put as many votes as possible to give victory to the PMLN for the PMLN deserves it,” he said.
Nawaz said that such a situation of censorship wasn’t witnessed during the martial law. “This must worry the whole nation. We are witnessing the kind of censorship and ban on media and freedom of speech that has not been seen during worst of times.”
He said that he discussed the name of next caretaker prime minister with Shahid Khaqan Abbasi and “it’s important that the caretaker prime minister follows rules and regulations, shouldn’t take unnecessary pressure.”
Separately, PM Abbasi and Nawaz agreed that the PML-N will fight the next elections rigorously on the agenda of progress and the slogan “give respect to ballot.”
The decision was made during a key meeting here which was attended by the PM, who was here to attend the meeting of Commonwealth heads. Nawaz has been in London to inquire about the health of his wife Begum Kulsoom Nawaz, while Ishaq Dar, the former finance minister, has been here for his medical treatment for many months now.
Abbasi earlier said the PML-N will win the elections and had a strategy in place for that. He added that he had good discussions with the British government officials during his current tour.