Shehbaz Calls for National Dialogue to End ‘crisis’

Shehbaz Calls for National Dialogue to End ‘crisis’

Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) president Shehbaz Sharif has called for a national dialogue among political forces to steer “the country out of the present crisis”.

“Socio-economic conditions in the country have worsened too much and can only be improved through collective efforts. There is a dire need for a national dialogue,” he said while talking to reporters who visited him here on Sunday to condole with him over the death of his mother.

“The government has destroyed the country and damaged its economy. Every sector of the economy is on the verge of collapse,” Mr Shehbaz Sharif said.

The PML-N president was released on Friday from Kot Lakhpat jail on a five-day parole to attend the funeral of his mother and receive the people coming to offer their condolences.

Begum Shamim Akhtar was buried at Jati Umra residence of the Sharif family on Saturday. She died last Sunday in London, where she had gone to meet her son Mr Nawaz Sharif.

Unlike his elder brother and PML-N supreme leader Nawaz Sharif, who has been advocating a national dialogue among political and non-political forces (the establishment and judiciary), Mr Shehbaz Sharif wants national dialogue among only political forces to steer the country out of the present crisis.

Says socio-economic conditions have worsened too much

“If we are to improve conditions of the country then all political forces will have to engage themselves in a national dialogue,” the former Punjab chief minister and opposition leader in the National Assembly said.

Holding the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) government responsible for what he said poisoning national politics, he lamented that now political exchange began and ended with mud-slinging against political rivals.

When asked what solution he suggested to improve national affairs, he said he would talk about it only after he was released from prison as at present he had been bailed out on parole for a few days.

Shehbaz Sharif also shared feelings he had when he received the news of his mother’s death while in jail. “It was a state of extreme helplessness. What could be done while in prison? I was allowed to talk to Nawaz Sharif after the death of our mother.”

The PML-N leader has been in prison for the last two months facing corruption charges in multiple National Accountability Bureau (NAB) cases. An accountability court had indicted him, his son Hamza Shehbaz and eight other suspects two weeks ago in the Rs7 billion money laundering and assets beyond means case.

Denying the charges as false and fabricated, Mr Shehbaz said he had been victimised on political grounds. He said all the cases pending against him had been engineered by his political opponents.

The PML-N leader has been complaining about his victimisation while in jail, alleging that even though he suffered from chronic backache, he was not provided the required bedding and was made to sleep on the floor of the jail cell.

He also complained that he was offered meals on the floor, instead of being offered on a table, keeping in view his spine issues.

On his complaint, an accountability court earlier barred jail authorities from using armoured vehicles for his shifting from prison to courts and directed instead to use bullet-proof cars for the purpose if authorities feared for his safety during his movement to and from court.

Meanwhile, PPP leader Asif Ali Zardari telephoned Mr Sharif and condoled with the latter on the death of his mother. The PPP leaders also offered dua for late Begum Shamim Akhtar.