Zardari convinced Nawaz not to resign, says Shah

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  • Opposition leader says PM has no role in Karachi’s improved security situation

Leader of Opposition in National Assembly Syed Khursheed Shah on Friday said that the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) had saved democracy in 2014 when former president Asif Ali Zardari convinced Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif not to resign as the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) turned up the political heat with its 2014 sit-in.

The PTI’s sit-in in Islamabad had called for the resignation of the prime minister amid allegations that the 2013 general election was rigged. “Nawaz Sharif was going to resign as the prime minister. We (the PPP) stopped him. We said, ‘this is the parliament’s war,” Shah told reporters here.

He said that Asif Zardari went to Raiwind and showed the world that he had accepted Nawaz Sharif as the prime minister. Earlier in March, PTI Chairman Imran Khan alleged that Prime Minister Nawaz struck a deal with Zardari to save himself in the ongoing Panama case.

“I have no doubt that Nawaz and Zardari have cut a deal, and that is why Zardari and Sharjeel Memon have returned to Pakistan while Dr Asim Hussain and Ayyan Ali were set free,” the PTI chief had said. He has also said that the deal consists of the prime minister announcing projects in Sindh while Zardari was in Lahore.

When asked about Sindh Governor Muhammad Zubair’s statements attributing responsibility for peace in Karachi to the prime minister, Shah said that Nawaz Sharif had no role to play in Karachi’s improved security situation.

The Pakistan Army, former military chief General Raheel Sharif and the provincial government of Sindh have an understanding, he said, adding that Nawaz Sharif was not involved in this. He went on to criticise the federal government for attempting to block the Sindh government’s move to remove AD Khawaja, as the inspector general of police.

Under the 18th Amendment bill, the provincial government has the right to make decisions as it deems fit, the opposition leader said. He also said that the Sindh government does not have an understanding with the police chief and the decision of his removal was taken to better the law and order situation of the province.

By putting blockages in the provincial government’s way, the federal government was playing a dangerous game, he said, adding that if the move was blocked, the PPP would have to consider its next step. As leader of the opposition, “I have the position to fight within and without the parliament for democracy,” he said.

Shah’s statements come at a time the PPP appears to have begun campaigning for the upcoming general election. With PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto focusing his attention on re-organising the party in Punjab and Co-Chairman Asif Ali Zardari rallying in Balochistan, the party seems to be on the offensive as it looks to ramp up support for itself away from its stronghold in Sindh.