LAHORE: It is unclear what triggered it, but the president unleashed an uncharacteristic verbal barrage against his principal rivals, the Sharifs, on Thursday.
A day after a snub by the Punjab government, which had refused to provide a small customary reception upon his arrival in Lahore, President Asif Ali Zardari had some choice words for the Sharifs.Addressing a meeting at the Governor House in Lahore on Thursday, he said that the “shine that the Sharif brothers were glowing in” was given by him and he could “take it away anytime.”While openly criticising Nawaz and Shahbaz Sharif, President Zardari said that the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) was a party limited to central Punjab and would be wiped out from the region in the next elections.
“The days of PML-N in Punjab are over,” he said. The president added that Lahore is PPP’s city and that the Sharif brothers are living as “migrants” there.President Zardari also went as far as to claim that they did not have enough people to “even offer funeral prayers” of their father and had taken him to Data Darbar because of the number of people present at the shrine.
Both the PML-N chief and the Punjab chief minister chose to stay away when President Zardari arrived in the city on Wednesday, while no Punjab government minister or official was present at the airport either to receive the president – as is customary.The move is reminiscent of the PPP-PML-N confrontation in the 90s when Nawaz would choose to stay away from Lahore whenever then prime minister Benazir Bhutto would visit the city.Speaking to Express News, Punjab Law Minister Rana Sanaullah criticised the president for his remarks, saying, “I cannot even believe that such shameful remarks were given by the president.”
“It seems like he (Zardari) has gone mad. He can foresee that he is going to face awful consequences, which is why he is making such statements.”Reacting to President Zardari’s statement, Nawaz’s daughter Maryam Nawaz Sharif tweeted saying: “Guys, do see Zardari’s statements now on TV channels. Wish he had kept this side of him hidden.”Meanwhile, President Zardari also claimed that acute load shedding in the country would be over before the elections. “We are working on a plan to get rid of load shedding and the situation will improve in coming days,” he said.
The president also asked the Punjab party office-bearers to get ready for the next elections and vowed that the PPP would sweep the next polls.He said that he was aware of the hardships faced by the people due to inflation and power outages and he assured that the situation would soon get better.The president later received a large delegation of the Peoples Lawyers Forum at the Governor’s House and hosted a dinner for them. He asked the lawyers to support the party in the upcoming general elections and show the world that Punjab was the bastion of the PPP. – Thetribune