Monday Aug 02, 2021
LAHORE: PML-N President Shahbaz Sharif Sunday categorically rejected speculation that he was about to resign from the party's presidency, describing it as "fake news".
A report earlier in Jang had stated that the former Punjab chief minister was unhappy over the party's dismal performance in the recently-concluded Azad Jammu and Kashmir elections after his election strategy was allegedly ignored by the party leadership.
He refuted the report while speaking to Geo News anchor Saleem Safi on his show Jirga.
"When I was finally allowed to speak during the budget session, after four days of chaos [in the Parliament], I said the budget is a fake one since the people's pockets are empty.
"Just like the budget, this news report is also fake," he added.
Shahbaz Sharif rejected speculation as well that he had been sidelined, adding that "the PML-N is like our house, and Nawaz Sharif, every party leader, worker and women [leaders] over the past 40 years have played their role in building it".
The former Punjab chief minister said he was offered the prime ministership twice over the last couple of decades, adding that one of these offers was made by former president Ghulam Ishaq Khan and later, by military dictator General (retd) Pervaiz Musharraf.
He said no single individual or a single institution was responsible for a weak democracy in the country, and "all are culprits here" [Is hamam me sab nangay hain].
Shahbaz Sharif stressed on the need to learn lessons from one's past mistakes, adding that it is necessary to take the country forward. He said there were only two options possible in the current scenario: either we keep ourselves mired in the past, raising slogans of ‘accountability first’ and keep repeating our mistakes that led to the creation of Bangladesh, the Kargil operation or attacks on democracy, or moving forward for welfare of the nation after admitting our mistakes.
When asked why he was failing to convince his elder brother [Nawaz Sharif] and niece [Maryam Nawaz] of the need for reconciliation, Sharif said every matter in the party is decided with consultation, and his viewpoint is known to everyone.
The PML-N presidnt said he believed in "natural reconciliation", and he wanted everyone to set aside their personal egos and join hands to eradicate poverty from the country.
The host asked Shahbaz Sharif whether or not he was offered prime ministership before the 2018 elections on the condition that he would abandon his Nawaz Sharif and his Maryam Nawaz.
In response, the Punjab chief minister said he would say no such thing, adding that his brother and PML-N supremo Nawaz Sharif would have been elected prime minister for a fourth time if PML-N leaders had made a strategy based on consensus in the pre-2018 election period.
During the interview, Shahbaz Sharif lashed out at Prime Minister Imran Khan, saying that he had failed to deliver despite being provided all-out support by the establishment.
The former Punjab chief minister said if only 30% of the support that the incumbent government had was provided to any other government, Pakistan would have been put on the road to progress by now.
He regretted that the prime minister had given only inflation and economic destruction to the country despite such a support. He regretted that petrol prices were being increased every other day, causing more problems for people.
Sharif rejected allegations that he helped his brother flee the country, saying that it was propaganda. "The government's doctors had recommended that the former prime minister be allowed to leave the country so that he can seek medical treatment," he told the anchor.
Regarding the opposition alliance Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM), Shehbaz Sharif said the anti-government coalition was formed and even broke up while he was in jail, so he has nothing to do with its breakup.
“As the leader of the opposition, I want to unite all parties together,” he said, and added that if the Opposition does not band together outside the Parliament, they must do so in it.