- Former President Zardari, Bilawal, Shehbaz and Nawaz address APC.
- This was Nawaz's first public address after leaving Pakistan.
- Convicted by accountability courts on corruption charges, Nawaz was allowed to go to London due to critical health.
(Karachi) Former premier Nawaz Sharif has said that his fight is against "those who selected Imran Khan". He was adressing the All Parties Conference convened today by the Pakistan Peoples Party. He was speaking via a video link from London, where the PMLN leader remains for 'health reasons' despite being sentenced to jail in Pakistan. He claimed that those who "followed the Constitution are languishing in jails and facing politically motivated cases."
Former PM Nawaz, who was convicted on corruption related charges by accountability court after a long court battle in the wake of ICIJ's Panama Papers leaks, was allowed to leave jail for London last year due to "serious issues to his health". Speaking publicly for the first time ever since leaving Pakistan, he said that the "incompetent" PTI-led government has taken U-turn on every issue. "Despite being away from the country, I know what our people are going through," Nawaz maintained.
اے پی سی سے قبل اپوزیشن رہنماؤں کی اہم بیٹھک۔ مسلم لیگ (ن) کے صدر شہباز شریف، نائب صدر مریم نواز، پی پی پی چیئرمین بلاول بھٹو زرداری و دیگر موجود۔ pic.twitter.com/nnosTmka1A— PML(N) (@pmln_org) September 20, 2020
APC is turning point
"I view this conference as a turning point for the country where we can make major decisions with bravery," he said.
Nawaz Sharif, who has been the Prime Minister of Pakistan thrice, said, “Pakistan is going through a lot of problems, and the cause is just one: Pakistan has been kept away from democracy. The country should be run by those elected by the people.”
He said courts acquitted dictators and provided them legal cover for three years. "The only one to be convicted hasn’t even been caught," he remarked, speaking of Former President Gen (r) Pervez Musharraf. "During the 73-long history of Pakistan, everybody knows that no democratic leader could complete their tenure in the country whereas the dictators ruled the country and completed their tenure."
The former prime minister said, "The democratic systems around the world follow the same principle. When public votes are not respected and the verdict is decided even before the elections, then we can guess how the people of this country are deceived."
Nawaz Sharif said former prime minister Yousuf Raza Gilani 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 parallel government illness is the root-cause of our problems."
He highlighted that the present government has failed to deliver and destroyed country's economy. "It is time to show that we are united" he said.
NAB acting on revenge policy
Criticizing National Accountability Bureau's performance, he said that NAB has become ineffective and is being used to take political revenge. He said the NAB chairman only acts on revenge policy.
"Those who escape the clutches of NAB are then handed over to FIA," he stated.
Motorway rape incident
Hurling criticism at the government, Nawaz said that the rape incident on link road shook the entire country. "Instead of consoling the victim and her family, the rulers kept pampering the police official who hurt sentiments of the people with his irresponsible comments.
He said my sympathies are with the victim and hope those involved in the incident get punishment.
Zardari criticizes govt for stringent censorship
Speaking on the occasion, PPP Co-Chairperson Asif Ali Zardari said the APC should have taken place quite a while ago. Criticising the government for not "allowing" former prime minister Nawaz Sharif's speech to be broadcast, he said they showed former President Pervez Musharraf's interview. However, despite the claims, the APC was broadcasted live over all national and local channels without hindrance, it was observed.
"We have never seen such stringent censorship across the country," Zardari stated. "This reflects on the weakness of the government. It is impossible to curtail the emerging voices of the media.
Welcoming PML-N vice-president Maryam Nawaz, he said: "We have seen the difficulties she has faced and we can understand because my own sister has gone to jail and my wife went to jail [...] We pay tribute to her and we are with you, and will keep fighting for your cause and you will keep fighting for ours, I am sure."
Bilawal hints at forming new alliance
PPP Co-Chairperson Bilawal Bhutto Zardari said that the opposition parties should form another alliance based on new kind of democracy.
"We will have to ask for a level-playing field. Not just in the elections, but in every other place that the Opposition was not provided in such as the judiciary, media and now even the parliament," he added.
Bilawal said that people's elected representatives are not allowed to speak in parliament and get their votes re-counted. "what hope will the nation have?" he questioned.
He said all leaders who were with us in the Movement for Restoration of Democracy, or in the Alliance for the Restoration of Democracy, and signed the Charter of Democracy should struggle with us to restore democracy again.
The APC was hosted by PPP Co-Chairperson Bilawal Bhutto Zardari and attended by leaders of PML-N, National Party (NP), Awami National Party (ANP), Qaumi Watan Party (QWP), Pakhtunkhwa Milli Awami Party (PkMAP), Balochistan National Party-Mengal (BNP-M) and Jamiatul Hadees.