Sharif trying to pit ruling PPP against military: Zardari

pakistan-president-asif-ali-zardari.jpg

President Asif Ali Zardari has accused former Premier Nawaz Sharif of trying to pit the ruling Pakistan People’s Party against the powerful military but said he would not allow this to happen.

Launching a blistering attack against main Opposition PML-N chief, Zardari described him as a “moulvi” inspired by the divisive politics of late military ruler Zia-ul-Haq.

He also alleged that Sharif had sympathies for militants involved in insurgency across Pakistan as he equated the PML-N chief’s mindset with that of Afghan Taliban leader Mullah Omar.

“This moulvi sahib who is opposed to us, his name is Moulvi Nawaz Sharif. I remember the beliefs with which he entered politics. He wants the politics of Moulvi Zai-ul-Haq,” Zardari said, referring to the late dictator who ruled Pakistan in the 1980s.

Zardari accused former premier Sharif of trying to pit the ruling Pakistan People’s Party against the powerful military but said he would not allow this to happen.

Zardari said Sharif wants him to clash with the military and other political forces but he would not do so.

He contended that Sharif was criticising army generals because they were not backing his bid to come to power.

“I see that your beliefs are being defeated because you are the creation of those beliefs which we are fighting against. These beliefs resulted in the death of my wife,” Zardari said, while addressing a large gathering of PPP workers and leaders at Naudero in Sindh province late last night.

The event was organised to mark the 58th birthday anniversary of Zardari’s slain wife, former Premier Benazir Bhutto.

Relations between Zardari and Sharif have been tense since the PML-N pulled out of the PPP-led federal government in 2008 but this was the first time that the President criticised Sharif in such a harsh manner.

Noting that 35,000 people had died in the war on terrorism, Zardari pointed out that Sharif was saying this was “not our fight”.

He alleged this was because Sharif had sympathies for militants and wanted to “become their leader”.

Zardari warned that if the militants came to power, they would “bring their own leaders and make their own Pakistan.”

In a reference to Sharif’s decision to go into self-exile after his government was overthrown by the military in 1999, Zardari repeatedly said that Sharif would leave the country again if there were major problems, leaving the PPP to tackle the situation.

Zardari asked Sharif to wait for the next general election and to refrain from maligning national institutions.

“Show some patience moulvi sahib and learn something,” he said, sarcastically as PPP workers cheered and clapped.

He criticised Sharif’s demand for accountability among army generals and asked him to learn to be patient and tolerant, two qualities which he said Sharif lacked.

Equating the PML-N chief’s mindset with that of Afghan Taliban leader Mullah Omar, Zardari said: “Maulvi Nawaz Sharif’s thought is the biggest threat to Pakistan’s security.

His earnest regret is that this time the army did not manoeuvre against the government and refused to listen to his conspiracy theories.”

Zardari also called on political forces to strengthen the country’s institutions and to refrain from inciting a clash of institutions.

“There is no single country in the world which survived or achieved progress after its institutions, including the army, were damaged. Do not speak against institutions. Do not talk about breaking them,” he said.

“Some imprudent politicians want to divide the Army’s officers and jawans. It will have dangerous consequences,” he said.

Zardari took a dig at the amassing of wealth by Nawaz Sharif and his brother, Punjab chief minister Shahbaz Sharif, saying they should think more about the nation and less about their sprawling farmhouse at Raiwind in Lahore.

“Think about the country and Thursday’s generation. Do not think of your mills and farms,” he said.

He claimed Nawaz Sharif lacked the strength to stand up to the hardships of prison and therefore appealed to former military ruler Pervez Musharraf to send him to Saudi Arabia in exile.

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