LAHORE: Accusing the presidency of backing a ‘smear campaign’ against former prime minister Nawaz Sharif, the Pakistan Muslim League-N on Monday gave a 48-hour ultimatum to the Pakistan People’s Party to stop the drive or be ready for a befitting response.
‘All the leads are pointing towards the presidency. So far we have been restraining ourselves for the sake of democracy and the Charter of Democracy, but if the drive does not come to a halt within 48 hours, we’ll give a befitting reply,’ PML-N information secretary Ahsan Iqbal said at a press conference.
Dismissing the ultimatum, presidency’s spokesman Farhatullah Babar said the PML-N was welcome to do whatever it wished.
Warning that the PML-N had ‘a 100 times more stories’ to expose PPP’s wrongdoings, Mr Iqbal said the purpose of the smear drive was to divert public attention from the issues of rental power and Steel Mills, sugar scandals and former military ruler Pervez Musharraf’s trial.
He said the PML-N would neither get de-tracked from its agenda nor allow others to do so.
He said the agenda comprised immediate trial of Gen (retd) Musharraf for high treason, accountability of those responsible for the sugar crisis, discussion on rental power projects in parliament and purging the PIA of ‘cronies’ of President Asif Ali Zardari who, he alleged, were plunging the national airliner into a deep financial crisis.
The PML-N leader said the government should tell the nation what measures it was taking for tackling price hike.
He said Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani should identify the elements sabotaging his efforts to save the system and avoid a confrontation between the two major political players.
Replying to a question, he said the government would have to face the fallout of the smear campaign, but the PML-N would fight for the Constitution and democracy and not allow any adventurer to play with the future of the country.
He said the PML-N was insisting on Gen (retd) Musharraf’s trial for his action of Nov 3, 2007, because it had not been provided constitutional cover and there was no legal obstacle in bringing the army ruler to justice.
He said it was a popular demand vindicated in a recent public opinion poll.
He said the prime minister could play the role of a bridge between the PPP and the PML-N but he would have to keep in view the public aspirations.
Farhatullah Babar said the presidency was being maligned without any proof or logic. He urged the PML-N to respond to the allegations levelled against it instead of indulging in finger-pointing.
He said the PPP had replied to character assassination campaigns against its late leader Benazir Bhutto, instead of taking refuge under one cover or the other.
Replying to a question, he said a tussle between political players would benefit the forces which wanted to defame politicians and political parties. He said the PPP condemned such smear campaigns.
Mr Babar said the PPP did not want confrontation with any party and for this reason it had formed coalition governments in the provinces where it could have easily sailed through alone.