By Our Staff Reporter
Islamabad: Pakistan’s former prime minister, Nawaz Sharif, accused country’s power military and the intelligence service of being behind his ouster as prime minister and of setting up their “puppet government” by bringing Imran Khan to power.
Sharif addressed the first show of power of the alliance of 11 opposition parties-Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM)-in Gujranwala, some 80 km from Lahore, late Friday night via video connection from London.
On 20 September, the opposition parties declared the establishment of the PDM and the launch of a three-phase anti-government movement under the “Action Plan” beginning with national public meetings, protest demonstrations, and rallies before the “decisive long march” to Islamabad in January 2021 to overthrow the government of Imran Khan-led Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf (PTI).
Targeting the military leadership, Sharif told the gathering: “(Army chief) Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa ended my government. He rigged the 2018 elections and imposed incapable Imran Khan on the nation. General Bajwa will have to give an answer to this.”
The Pakistani Muslim League (Nawaz) chief alleged that selectors are directly responsible for the miseries and sufferings of the people by imposing an inept PTI government. He also accused the Inter-Services Intelligence of being behind the fall of his government and said the entire episode happened with the help of ISI chief Lt Gen Faiz Hameed.
“You will have to answer this too. I ask the people present in the rally, don’t be afraid to mention the name who imposed this incapable Imran on us,” he said, accusing the military and the ISI of ‘installing’ their ‘puppet government by bringing Imran Khan into power’.
The PML-N chief is facing multiple corruption charges. The Islamabad High Court had allowed him to go to London for medical treatment in November last year. This is not the first time that Sahrif has gone after the military leadership.
During the opposition’s multiparty conference last month, he had bitterly criticized the army, saying there was “a state above the state in the country”. However, he had refrained from naming anyone. Since his anti-army rant, the PTI government has banned the media to broadcast his speeches.
Friday’s event was the first power show of the PDM since its formation last month with an objective to oust the “selected” PTI government. The PDM’s struggle against the Imran Khan government is widely perceived as being anti-army.
The opposition managed to pull a huge crowd at the cricket stadium that was full to its capacity. Sharif also questioned why the violators of the Constitution don’t get any punishment, while an elected prime minister is not allowed to complete his tenure.
Sharif became the prime minister in the politically unstable Pakistan for a record three times, but every time he was forced to quit in the middle of his term.
During the event, PDM president Maualana Fazlur Rehman declared that the PTI government would be sent packing by December in the wake of the opposition’s movement. PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari and Sharif’s daughter Maryam Nawaz also addressed the event. The next rally of the PDM is on Sunday in Karachi.
The Opposition leaders had announced that they would use all political and democratic options, including no-confidence motions and mass resignations from Parliament to seek “the selected” prime minister’s resignation.
The Opposition parties have accused the powerful army of rigging the 2018 elections that brought the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf party to power. The Opposition parties are openly opposing the military’s interference in politics and elections for the first time in the recent history of the country.
Sharif has been living in London since November last year after he was allowed by the courts and the government to go there for a period of eight weeks for medical treatment. But he did not come back, while his lawyers told the court that he was still recovering.
The Islamabad High Court through newspaper advertisements has asked Sharif to appear before it by November 24 to avoid being declared a “proclaimed offender”.
(With Inputs from PTI)