Nawaz Sharif cancels meeting with Zardari after his 'improper' remarks

The prime minister presided over an urgent meeting of top aides where he was reportedly advised to avoid giving an impression of collusion with Zardari in his latest controversy with the military.



By Afzal Khan

Published: Thu 18 Jun 2015, 10:58 PM

Last updated: Wed 8 Jul 2015, 2:58 PM

Islamabad: Distancing himself from the state of confrontation generated by Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) Co-chairman Asif Ali Zardari’s broadside against the army that appeared to have sharply divided political opinion in the country, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif quickly moved to stand by the institution.

In a rebuff to Zardari, the prime minister on Wednesday cancelled an expected meeting with him after labelling his remarks as “improper” and reaffirming that the entire nation supports the army.

The prime minister presided over an urgent meeting of top aides where he was reportedly advised to avoid giving an impression of collusion with Zardari in his latest controversy with the military.

The aides believed that during the meeting Zardari would ask the prime minister to curb Rangers’ powers and stop it from taking actions against the provincial government.

A statement issued from the PM House quoted Sharif as saying that criticism of the armed forces encourages destabilising factors in the country, adding that under the current circumstances criticising the armed forces was not an appropriate step.

He further said that the operation against terrorism is in its critical stages, adding that national unity was need of the hour.

“Coordination between the civilian and military leadership has strengthened democracy. This harmony is evident in the decisions taken by the All Parties Conferences (APC) during which the civilian and military leadership set joint national targets,” the statement said.

In a related development, Sindh Chief Minister Qaim Ali Shah wrote a letter to Director-General Rangers Karachi taking strong exception to the raids against land grabbers and the office of Karachi Building Control Authority. Shah described these raids as overstepping the legal domain of the para-military force and asked it to remain confined to its legal mandate of operation against target killers and criminals.

To add to Zardari’s isolation, his erstwhile ally, the Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid (PML-Q) also dissociated itself from the PPP. The party chief Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain said it could not stand by those who attack the security establishment at a time when a critical operation against terrorism is under way.

In TV comments most analysts slammed Zardari’s remarks and supported security agencies. Amid a torrent of condemnation, two leading analysts generally regarded as sympathetic to the party, M. Ziauddin and Imtiaz Alam had a conflicting assessment of PPP’s capacity to take on the army and carry out Zardari’s threats. Both have, however, been consistent critics of army’s alleged interference in civilian affairs.

“He has already destroyed the party of Z.A. Bhutto and Benazir Bhutto confining it to parts of Sindh while it hardly can make its existence felt in other three provinces.”

Imtiaz Alam believed that the security establishment appears to be acting against the PPP and MQM both of which can create difficulties if they join hands.

news@khaleejtimes.com


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