Deposed Pakistani premier Nawaz Sharif has taken a fresh dig at Prime Minister Imran Khan, saying the cricketer-turned politician is called a “puppet” leader in India, as he was installed by the powerful military in 2018.
Mr Sharif, who is presently in London getting treatment for a heart condition, attended, via video link, the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz’s (PML-N) general meeting held in Lahore on Thursday.
“In India, Imran Khan is called a ‘puppet’ and in the United States it is said that he (Imran) has powers even less than that of a mayor. This is because the world knows how he has been brought to power. Imran has not come into power by the votes of the people but with help of (the) military establishment,” the three-time former premier said.
Mr Sharif, 71, convicted in two corruption cases in Pakistan, has been living in London since November 2019 after the Lahore High Court granted him permission to go abroad for four weeks for medical treatment.
Earlier at the party meet, Mr Sharif took swipes at Army Chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa and former ISI chief Lt Gen Faiz Hameed for “imposing a puppet government of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf ” through a rigged general election in 2018.
“This man (Imran Khan) used to say that he would prefer suicide than going to the IMF (International Monetary Fund). Now we are waiting when he commits suicide,” Mr Sharif said, recalling Khan’s strident criticism of the former Pakistani government’s borrowing from international institutions.
The PTI government, in its first three years in power since 2018, has already contracted debt from foreign governments and institutions of over USD 34 billion. Sharif said: “In the name of new Pakistan (naya Pakistan) inept and incompetent people like Imran Khan were imposed on the nation that ruined the country’s economy.” He further said the reason behind the country’s decline is that the Constitution is never held supreme and oaths are never honoured.
“Even the people’s opinions are kept hostage. If Pakistan wants to move towards prosperity, then lessons need to be learnt from the past. If we are to bring back the glory days of the country, we need to give people the right to franchise,” he said.
Former foreign minister and close aide to Sharif, Khawaja Asif said: “I know how brave Imran Khan is. We know on whose backing (military establishment) he puts up a brave face and challenges his political opponents. When Imran had gone to jail (during General Pervez Musharraf’s regime) for four to five days he would cry behind bars. Seeing this, the then government released him.” Former speaker of National Assembly Sardar Ayaz Sadiq, meanwhile, indicated that Sharif may be planning to return to Pakistan “very soon”.