Opposition’s APC a turning point, says Nawaz
Vows to protect democracy and take fearless decisions: Will not accept any curb on media
Despite days of warnings by the government ministers that Pemra action and other options are on the table if the media broadcast PML-N Quaid Nawaz Sharif’s speech, the former prime minister also made a comeback to the national politics after almost a year when he virtually addressed the multi parties gathering on Sunday.
Addressing the participants of the conference via a video link from London on Sunday, Nawaz Sharif outrightly thanked PPP for extending an invitation to him and emphasized that Pakistan is going through a "crucial time" as both democracy and economy of the country are endangered by the immature policies of the PTI government.
He also thanked Asif Zardari and Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, saying he would not forget the love with which he spoke to him a day earlier.
"I am thankful to the organisers of the conference for giving me the opportunity to talk. Even though I am away from my country, I know very well what condition the country and the people are in. I believe this is a decisive turn; it is necessary to protect democracy and take fearless decisions."
"If we don't do it, take a step today, when will we. Otherwise, the nation will be disappointed,” said Nawaz, who has been in the UK since November last year for medical treatment. "I agree with Maulana (Fazlur Rehman) that we need to make this conference purposeful or the people will be disappointed.”
Nawaz Sharif said “We are not against Imran Khan. We are fighting against those who brought Imran Khan into power.”
He maintained “Freedom of media is one of the basic rights. Restrictions on media, the disappearance of senior journalists negate justice. Let’s make a pledge for the protection of the media. We will not accept any bar on the freedom of the media.”
Nawaz Sharif said "Pakistan has been constantly deprived of 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."
Pakistan has become a laboratory of "such experiments", said Nawaz and added "Every child knows that no prime minister has been allowed to complete five years in power."
All dictators have spent multiple years in power while democratically elected premiers have hardly been allowed to complete their term, he maintained. "When a dictator was first brought into the courtroom for violating the Constitution, you saw what happened. Court gave dictators the right to play with the Constitution and acquitted someone who broke the Constitution twice whereas the ones who follow the Constitution are still in jail."
Nawaz said former prime minister Yousuf Raza Gilani had once pointed to "a state within a state" in Pakistan. "It is saddening that the situation has escalated to a state above the state. This scourge of parallel government is the root-cause of our problems."
Speaking about the 2018 elections, Nawaz said the primary reason for the current problems were those people who "hijacked the people's mandate by putting inexperienced people in power". "This is a violation of the Constitution. Has anyone given a thought to what a grave crime it is to steal the people's mandate?"
"Can I ask why the Results Transmission System (RTS) was closed for hours during the election, and why polling agents were thrown out during counting? Why was rigging done, on whose saying and why? The former Chief Election Commission (CEC) and secretary Election Commission should answer and all those responsible will have to answer."
“All the problems of the country are one as per my experience that Pakistan was kept away from the democratic process, as the soul of democracy is people’s right to vote, when there is always a hit on respect of vote, then the whole political process becomes fake and meaningless.”
“When it was decided and pre-planned before the political process of general elections 2018 that who will win and who will lose, then we can understand in how many ways how people’s mandate could be stolen.”
The former prime minister said, “If there was a true mandate’s government, then it was derailed in a number of ways, despite having the fear that it would weaken democracy.”
Article 6 was included in the Constitution to stop the adventurism of the military generals but even after that 20 years were wasted on military dictatorship, Nawaz said.
“Mr President, you have seen, I feel saddened, when one dictator was brought to the court, I want to ask what happened. Is justice done in his case? All this is irrelevant as the special court who announced the verdict against the dictator was declared illegal. I want to ask for how long things will go like this!”
Contrary to the fact, see those who were elected with the vote of the people, one prime minister was hanged, others called traitors and they have been dragged into fake cases along with their daughters and family members.
After 2018, many international organizations questioned the transparency of the elections and that is why Pakistan’s national image is distorted, Nawaz said and added “Today Pakistan is going through such isolation and for this those people are responsible who hijacked the elections and gave powers to the ineligible government of Imran Khan.”
Pakistan’s economy is devastated and the country which was taking progress with a 5.8 percent growth rate now stood below zero percent, he said and added “Pakistani rupee is below Nepal and Afghanistan and Indian currencies. Poor and middle class cannot afford twice a meal a day while electricity and gas bills always come like bombs on the people.”
Nawaz said China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) is facing utter confusion and in the last two years loans have been taken magnanimously.
Nawaz warned that countries which cannot be economically stable are also not able to defend them especially when your enemies know your weakness.
The PML-N Quaid also discussed the Lahore-Sheikhupura Motorway gang-rape incident. He said, “I am sad about what happened with the nation's daughter and even the statement of a hard-hearted police officer, government has all sympathies with blue-eyed police officer not with the daughter of the nation.”
To fail CPEC, the efforts were started in 2014 when a sit-in delayed the visit of Chinese President Xi Jinping to Pakistan. “CPEC is being delayed like other sectors and the project is being treated with Peshawar’s BRT,” he alleged.
Nawaz Sharif said the government has failed on Kashmir issue due to its ineffective foreign policy and sabotaged Pakistan's relations with friendly countries including Saudi Arabia and China. He said that OIC is a great platform that Pakistan could have used to push the issue of Kashmir, however, our failed foreign policy has resulted in for loss of Pakistan's credibility on international platform.
Nawaz Sharif said India occupied Kashmir just after seeing that there is an ineligible government in Pakistan but Pakistan could not even protest against it. “Forget about the world, we could not even get the support of our friends. Why the world is not listening to us.”
Nawaz Sharif said we have to think with which planning Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi gave such a statement that was hurting the hearts of our friendly countries.
The former prime minister said, “Time has come that all these questions must be answered. “If Pakistan People’s Party two Prime Ministers Yousaf Raza Gilani and Raja Pervaiz Ashraf are sitting here then they know how hurdles were created around a civilian prime minister and president.”
Referring to the October 2016 National Security Meeting, Nawaz Sharif said when it was highlighted that our friends and world in large have some complaints and we should do something then it was made “Dawn leaks”. After then a Joint Investigation Team (JIT) was made with members from agencies and then through propaganda machinery “I was declared a traitor.”
“Then PM’s subordinate said a tweet, Tweet Rejected “and the rest, you know everything,” Nawaz Sharif said.
Nawaz Sharif said it was our mistake to continue with accountability institution (NAB) of a military dictator. “It is not a department anymore but the government's revengeful tool. NAB Chairman Javed Iqbal was caught red-handed misusing his power but Imran Khan did not take any action and no inquiry was initiated.”
He warned soon they will face accountability. International organizations and our senior judiciary have clearly made an opinion about anti-corruption body which is only targeting the opposition.
He questioned why NAB did not arrest the rulers for alleged involvement in sugar and flour price hike. He also questioned the anti-graft body’s role in not probing alleged assets beyond means of Prime Minister Imran Khan’s sister Aleema Khan Sahiba.
“Will there be no JIT on the Bani Gala residence and Zaman Park residence, why Imran Khan paid only 281,449 tax money.”
In the end he recited a couplet:
Dil bughz-o-hasd say ranjur na kar
Yeh Noor e Khuda hai isay bay-noor na kar
Na ahal-o kamina ki khushamad se agar
Jannat bhi milay toh qabul na kar
Freedom of Press
Nawaz Sharif termed the abduction of journalists a ‘cowardly act’ and stated that making media persons and senior journalists jobless is not a way of a democratic state. “I want to appeal to all the political heads of the parties to show resolve that we will protect the freedom of media,” he said.
Nawaz Sharif said, “If we are able to block the ‘rule and divide policy’ within the opposition ranks, then this APC would become successful.”
He also asked for suggestions from the APC participants to remove once for all a “parallel government” within a state.
Nawaz Sharif suggested to make public Hamoodur Rahman Commission Report (HRCR), based on the fall of Dhaka, and called for implementation on the report and this should be a part of APC’s agenda.
Nawaz Sharif said, “Our top priority must be to get rid of this ineligible government. However, our struggle is not against Imran Khan but those who brought Imran Khan into power.”
Counting his feats as a prime minister, the PML-N Quaid said, “We did not make any mistake when it comes to strengthen the defence of the country and we will not do so in the future. Pakistan Armed Forces must abide by the constitution,” he said and also recalled the statement of Founder of Pakistan Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah’s speech to armed forces to stay away from the politics.
“I must say that the armed forces do not arrest the prime minister on someone’s orders. This is saddening and all these scenes are in front of me. What we have done to our country!”
Nawaz said, “I must say whatever this APC will decide, PML-N will support. I must reiterate that APC should take unconventional decisions.”