Feb 26, 2009

Belligerent Nawaz lashes out at Zardari

Accusing President Asif Ali Zardari of offering relief to Sharif brothers in their eligibility cases ‘in exchange for supporting extension in service of Chief Justice Abdul Hameed Dogar’, Pakistan Muslim League-N leader Nawaz Sharif asked the people on Wednesday to ‘stand up and be counted’.
Nawaz Sharif claimed during a press conference that the chief justice and the president had approached him and offered relief if he changed his stance on the restoration of judiciary.
‘Had we placed our personal interest above the national one, we could have struck a deal, but it has not been the case,’ he said.
An independent judiciary is and would remain supreme to the PML-N, Mr Sharif added.
He said that President Asif Ali Zardari had invited Shahbaz Sharif to a lunch at the presidency a month ago and ‘offered what he himself called a business deal. The judges would provide relief provided the PML-N helps the government in granting extension to the chief justice, who is due to retire in March’.
The former premier was accompanied by chief minister Shahbaz Sharif. A visibly perturbed Nawaz Sharif said: ‘I hardly care for the decision of PCO judges whom I do not consider lawful judges.’
He said the ‘spontaneous reaction’, as shown by different television channels, was a proof that the people had rejected the verdict and it would be overturned with the passage of time.
The former prime minister ruled out resignations by PML-N parliamentarians, saying they had won their seats from the party platform and resignations did not make sense.
Mr Nawaz said the PML-N had given a call to observe a protest day on Thursday, hoping that the popular reaction would make it clear to Mr Zardari that people had rejected the verdict.
Holding President Zardari personally responsible for the disqualification verdict, he spared the Pakistan People’s Party of any blame. ‘The PPP as a party cannot be held responsible for the deeds of Asif Ali Zardari, who has shattered all the dreams about prosperous and democratic Pakistan as envisaged in the Charter of Democracy,’ he said.
Shahbaz Sharif chimed in with a claim that Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani had called him on Wednesday and regretted the verdict, implying that the PPP as a party was not responsible for the disqualification.
Lamenting the behaviour of what he called ‘Dogar court’, the former prime minister, said: ‘The decision was expected. The judiciary, which can allow an army general to contest election in uniform and provide relief on the condition of bachelor’s degree within 24 hours, is only expected to take such action — disqualifying a two-time prime minister, a two-time chief minister and the only winner of a two-thirds majority.’
‘At the heart of current crisis and fears of President Asif Zardari lie the controversial National Reconciliation Ordinance and the Swiss cases. Mr Zardari fears that the NRO cannot stand the test of an independent court’s scrutiny.’
Nawaz Sharif insisted that he would not appear before ‘these PCO courts in future either’. The protest movement would remain peaceful, he said, but added: ‘How can we stop people from venting their anger on a decision that has endangered the very unity of the country’.

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