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In his speech, Nawaz Sharif takes on Imran Khan, recalls PM Modi’s visit

Pakistan’s former prime minister Nawaz Sharif on Friday directly hit out at Imran Khan and the economic situation of the country as he addressed the first public rally of the Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) in Gujranwala city. Sharif addressed the rally of the newly-formed joint opposition alliance, which is being headed by Maulana Fazlur Rehman, the chief of the Jamiat-Ulema Islam (F), virtually from London.

“The smiling faces I left behind look gloomy today. Gujranwala has always loved Nawaz Sharif. I am talking to you after three years. Many things have changed in the last three years,” he told the audience. “If I was not removed from the premiership the country and the economy would have been in a much better condition today,” Sharif said during the rally, which many said was attended by thousands.

From joblessness to the prices of gold and basic items such as medicines, the Pakistan Muslim League (N) leader attacked the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf government on multiple fronts .”I heard that the cost of per tola gold has crossed 110k. Will someone tell me how will a poor person’s daughter get married? PTI government used to say that they will give 10 million jobs, but about 15 million people have gone unemployed in this government. They said they will give five million houses. Tell me, has anyone gotten a single home?” he asked.

In the speech of the 70-year-old Sharif, who is in London since November last year after Lahore High Court granted him permission to go abroad for four weeks for treatment, India also figured. During his time as prime minister, Sharif said, the government stood tall with the nuclear tests that it conducted in response to the tests carried out by India. “But we saw Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi visit us and talk to us,” he said. He was referring PM Modi’s trip to Pakistan in 2015.

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Sharif also recalled former Indian PM Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s comments in the visitors’ book at Minar-e-Pakistan in Lahore. “What beautiful sentiments he expressed. Wasn’t that a better Pakistan?” he asked. “Some people have a desire that my voice doesn’t reach you but their conspiracies will fail,” he said.

The three-time premier also attacked the Pakistan army, saying it “broke the country into two”. Sharif directly accused army chief General Qamar Bajwa and Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) chief Lt General Faiz Hameed of rigging the elections and making fabricated cases of corruption against opposition leaders. “They have to be held accountable for their crimes.”

Sharif, who is currently out on bail and is facing multiple corruption charges, also accused the military and the intelligence agency of being behind his ouster as premier and installing their “puppet government” by bringing Imran Khan into power. “Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa ended my government. He rigged 2018 elections and imposed incapable Imran Khan on the nation. Gen Bajwa is a direct culprit and he will have to give an answer to this,” he said.

PML (N) vice-president Maryam Nawaz, also Sharif’s daughter, was also at the rally in Gujranwala and so was Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) chairperson Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari. Maryam Nawaz was muted on a live telecast when she started speaking against Gen Bajwa. The next PDM rally is scheduled to be held on Sunday in Karachi.

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