Keeping up his tirade against his bete noire Asif Ali Zardari [Images], Opposition Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz leader Nawaz Sharif [Images] on Sunday compared the President to former military ruler Pervez Musharraf [Images] and accused him of compromising Pakistan's sovereignty by acting on the dictates of the US.
"Musharraf feared the US, and now Zardari fears the US," two-time former premier Sharif told a gathering of students at the Jamia Naeemia seminary in Lahore [Images]. He alleged that Zardari, like Musharraf, was compromising Pakistan's sovereignty by formulating policies according to the dictates of the US. Sharif and his PML-N party have stepped up their attack on Zardari since the Supreme Court last week barred the ex- premier and his brother, former Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif, from contesting polls and holding elected office.
Sharif said the existing judiciary is unable to hear cases like those related to persons being held without charges by security agencies because it is afraid of rulers like Musharraf and Zardari. Countries thrive when they abide by their constitutions and the people would not accept repeated spells of dictatorships and martial law, Sharif warned.
"Policies are not made in Pakistan and the leaders take dictation from outside on all issues. Can such people run Pakistan?" he asked. Sharif said Muslims were killing Muslims in Pakistan and such a state of affairs existed due to people who compromised the country's sovereignty and promoted their personal agendas. "Was Pakistan created so we could see such a day?"
Referring to PML-N demand for reinstating judges sacked during the 2007 emergency, he said: "If the judiciary is made independent, Pakistan's problems can be speedily resolved." The PML-N will back the "long march" to be launched by the lawyers' movement on March 12 to reinstate the deposed judges, Sharif said. "If your heart says this is a noble cause, you must join the long march," he told the students who shouted slogans against Zardari.
The apex court's verdict has sparked angry protests across the country, particularly in Punjab. Analysts fear that further protests could destabilise Pakistan at a time when it is grappling with Taliban [Images] insurgency and economic problems.
Sharif, however, repeated his call for people to rise up against the Pakistan Peoples Party-led government, saying "future generations will not forgive us if we do not act now". A people's movement, he said, would make Pakistan secure, ensure its sovereignty and prevent more dictatorships.
Zardari imposed Governor's Rule in Punjab, Pakistan's richest and most populous province, after the verdict. His PPP has said it plans to form its own government in Punjab even though the PML-N is still the single largest party in the provincial assembly. The Sharif brothers have accused Zardari of influencing the apex court's verdict to facilitate horse-trading in Punjab.