Monday Sep 28, 2020
LAHORE: PML-N Vice President Maryam Nawaz addressed a press conference on Monday shortly after opposition leader Shehbaz Sharif's arrest to claim that he had been put in cuffs solely for his enduring loyalty towards former prime minister and elder brother Nawaz Sharif.
"This movement [against the incumbent political setup] will not suffer a setback due to Shehbaz Sharif's arrest," she insisted, adding that it will only add fuel to fire.
Reacting to Shehbaz's arrest as "extremely unfortunate", Maryam said that she had no doubt that the PML-N president had been picked up because he chose not to betray his brother, Nawaz Sharif.
"He [Shehbaz Sharif] not only stood with his brother but his loyalty to his brother's cause and the party remained unwavering. His wife has been made an absconder; his son, my brother Hamza, has been sent to jail and no case has been proven against him.
"During the last week, Shehbaz gave two to three statements saying that if they want to arrest him, they can — but [the party] will implement 100% [of the directives] given in Nawaz Sharif's speech at the APC," she said, referring to a statement made by the PML-N supremo at the opposition's multiparty conference last week.
Maryam said Shehbaz had not been arrested over any legitimate allegations and that she questioned the accountability and justice system in Pakistan.
"If there is any semblance of justice in Pakistan, then instead of Shehbaz Sharif, Asim Saleem Bajwa should be arrested," she said, referring to the incumbent CPEC Authority chairman.
"Shehbaz Sharif does not own 99 companies or hundreds of franchises. Shehbaz Sharif hails from a business family and his father was a well-known businessman," she added.
Maryam said that Asim Bajwa should, however, be held accountable as he was a salaried employee. She called on NAB to investigate his case.
"NAB says it looks at the case and not the face. Has it not seen this case yet?" she asked.
The PML-N vice president said that she did not wish to speak further about NAB as its credibility had already been "completely eroded" by the Supreme Court's verdict in which it had said that the bureau was involved in political engineering.
She questioned the government for "smuggling out" former PTI general secretary and close aide of Prime Minister Imran Khan, Jahangir Khan Tareen, when his name came up in the sugar inquiry commission.
"When his [Jahangir Tareen] son was called to present himself before the JIT, he said that he cannot come as he is looking after his father," she said.
She criticised NAB for not considering that Hamza Shehbaz was 45 years old and could own his own businesses, when on the other hand, Asim Bajwa's children were not considered dependent on him.
"Look at how the media was pressurised and later, when Asim Bajwa felt the pressure, he gave a clarification. Then the media was told to run Bajwa's clarification. Everyone, from the media to us, were asking about about the news on which the clarification was issued," she said.
"We didn't know about the news but we knew about the clarification that came out."
"Does anyone have the gall to send Asim Saleem Bajwa a notice?" she asked.
Referring to rumours and speculation about a split in the PML-N, Maryam said that the "Noon and the Sheen" (Nawaz and Shehbaz) were united and will stay united.
"Shehbaz Sharif has his own thinking, according to which he believes that maybe reconciliation makes for better politics. He says this in front of Mian sahab [Nawaz Sharif], the party and in front of all of us. But when Mian sahab issues his directives, he is the first one to accept them," she said.
Referring to the prime minister as a 'coward', Maryam said that PM Imran Khan was afraid that Shehbaz would one day be considered a suitable choice to replace him.
"In the eyes of the people, especially in the eyes of the people of Punjab, Shehbaz Sharif is the only choice," she said. "To the institutions that are standing beside Imran Khan, they should know that a man with no experience has been imposed on the people," she said.
She said that PM Imran was a "foolish friend" and nobody more than him had given a bad name to state institutions.
"If Imran Khan will continue to be supported like this, things will get out of even the PML-N's hands," she warned.
Maryam cautioned her opponents, saying that even if PML-N workers or leaders are arrested, "this movement will not stop".
Reacting to PM Imran's statement that he will hold by-elections the moment opposition parties resign from parliament, she said that neither can the government hold these elections nor will it be given time to do so.
"Not an easy job to hold elections on so many seats," she said, alleging that elections in Gilgit-Baltistan were being engineered and that PML-N workers were being 'split' from the party.
She further alleged that elections in GB were delayed deliberately, adding that the coronavirus was just an excuse to buy more time.
"Whether the PML-N wins or loses in the elections, it will not let the field remain open for you so easily in Gilgit-Baltistan," she said.
"If you have to do this engineering, if you have to steal elections, then you will have to do this in front of the people of Pakistan. You will not be able to do this from the shadows," she added.
"Nawaz Sharif will lead the party, whatever instructions he issues, the party obeys them," Maram Nawaz said.
Reacting to a recent protest organised outside the Avenfield Apartments, Maryam said that those who came to protest were not even brave enough to show their faces, adding that they wore hoodies to cover their heads and masks to hide their faces.
She said that her father had braved atrocities in Pakistan, had gone to jail twice with his daughter, whom he always protected, and had not backed down.
She said that those who were talking about the PML-N splitting did not know that in the past, all who tried to break the PML-N were "made history" themselves.
Maryam said that Nawaz will return soon to the country, adding that it was difficult for him to leave his wife behind on the deathbed and then his fellow citizens to go for treatment to London.
"No one, including a large number of PML-N workers, wants him to return to the country," she said. "Nawaz Sharif is ill but his passion is not. He will lead the party with all his strength," she added.
The PML-N vice president spoke about the meeting between former Sindh governor Mohammad Zubair and army chief Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa, saying that the DG ISPR should not have become a party to this matter.
"The DG ISPR conducts himself very decently but I don't think he should have become a party in this matter," she said. "He should not have given a political touch to a personal meeting," Maryam added, advising the DG ISPR to "keep himself to the bigger issues".