Islamabad, September 20

Pakistan’s deposed premier Nawaz Sharif on Sunday staged a political comeback by criticising the powerful Army and said the Opposition was not against Prime Minister Imran Khan but against those who brought an “inefficient” man to power.

Addressing the All-Parties Conference (APC) hosted by the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) via a video link aimed at launching a protest movement against the Khan-led Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) government, the three-time premier launched a scathing attack on the ruling party for its “failure to address the basic problems of the people”.

Sharif, 70, the Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz (PML-N) supremo, has been living in London since November last year after the Lahore High Court granted him permission to go abroad for four weeks for treatment.

On Friday, PPP chairman Zardari talked to him over phone and invited him to virtually attend the Opposition-led All Parties Conference (APC) scheduled to be held on Sunday.

Addressing the conference, Sharif criticised the country’s powerful establishment for allegedly supporting Khan.

“Our struggle is not against Imran Khan. Today, our struggle is against those who installed Imran Khan and who manipulated elections (of 2018) to bring an inefficient man like him into power and thus destroyed the country,” he said.

Sharif said that the foremost priority should be to remove “this selected government and this system”, adding that “if the change is not brought, it will bring irreversible loss to this country”.           

He asked the powerful Army to stay away from politics and follow the Constitution and vision of the country’s father ‘Quaid-e-Azam’ Muhammad Ali Jinnah.

“It is very important that our armed forces stay away from our governmental system according to our Constitution and the Quaid’s speech, and not interfere with the people’s choice. We have made this country a joke in our own eyes and internationally as well,” he said.

Sharif pointed out that former Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani once said that there was “a state within a state” in Pakistan.

“It is saddening that the situation has escalated to a state above the state. This parallel government illness is the root-cause of our problems,” he said.

He asked the leaders attending the conference to make important decisions to change the system of the country, alleging that the current government has enforced “martial law” in the country.

“This conference should bring forth a concrete plan of action for saving democracy, a concrete policy should be made for solving the problem of a parallel state… I again urge this all-party conference to go beyond its traditional ways and form a plan of action,” he said.

Sharif reiterated that the vote of people should be honoured which was the only way to save democracy and the country.

“Pakistan has been constantly deprived from a democratic system. When the vote is dishonoured, the entire democratic system becomes meaningless. When it is decided before the election process as to who will win and who will lose, then it can be guessed how the public is betrayed and how the public’s mandate is stolen,” he said. PTI