LAHORE: President Shehbaz Sharif of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) called for a national dialogue between political powers to guide “the country out from the present crisis.”
The country’s socio-economic conditions have changed so much and can be strengthened only by collective efforts. There is a dire need for a national dialogue,’ he said, speaking to reporters who met him here on Sunday to protest the death of his mother.
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The government has ruined the nation and harmed the economy there. Each sector of the economy is on the brink of collapse,’ said Mr Shehbaz Sharif.
On Friday, the PML-N president was released on a five-day parole from Kot Lakhpat jail to attend his mother’s funeral and receive the people who came to give their condolences.
Begum Shamim Akhtar was buried on Saturday at the Sharif family’s Jati Umra home. She died in London last Sunday when she went to visit her son, Mr. Nawaz Sharif.
Unlike his older brother and Supreme Leader of the PML-N, Nawaz Sharif, who supported a national dialogue between political and non-political (establishment and judiciary) parties, Mr. Shehbaz Sharif wants a national dialogue between political forces primarily to direct the country out of the current crisis.
Says socio-economic conditions have worsened too much
Both political parties will have to participate in a national dialogue if we want to change the country’s circumstances,’ said the former Punjab chief minister and opposition leader in the National Assembly.
He regretted that political exchange started now and ended with mud-slinging against political opponents, keeping the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) government accountable for what he claimed was poisoning national politics.
When asked what solution he proposed to strengthen national relations, he said he would only talk about it after he was released from jail, as he had been bailed out on parole for a few days at the time.
Shehbaz Sharif also expressed his emotions when he heard the news of the death of his mother while in detention. It was an intense feeling of helplessness. When in jail, what should be done? I was permitted to speak with Nawaz Sharif after our mother died.
In several National Accountability Bureau (NAB) cases, the PML-N official has been in jail for the last two months facing corruption charges. He, his son Hamza Shehbaz and eight other defendants were indicted by an accountability court two weeks ago in the Rs7 billion money laundering and properties beyond means case.
Mr Shehbaz, dismissing the allegations as baseless and fabricated, said that on political grounds he was victimised. He said his political rivals had engineered all of the lawsuits pending against him.
While in custody, the PML-N chief spoke about his victimisation, complaining that even though he suffered from severe back pain, the necessary bedding was not given and he was forced to sleep on the floor of the prison cell.
He also complained that instead of being served on a table, meals were offered on the floor, bearing in mind his spine problems.
On his appeal, an earlier court of accountability forbade jail authorities to use armoured vehicles for his transport from prison to court and ordered them instead to use bullet-proof vehicles for the purpose if authorities feared for his safety during his journey to and from court.
PPP chief Asif Ali Zardari, meanwhile, telephoned Mr. Sharif and complained to him about the death of his mother. Dua for the late Begum Shamim Akhtar was also provided by the PPP leaders.