PPP President Asif Ali Zardari on Tuesday was reported by party sources to have held a lengthy conversation with PML-N supremo Nawaz Sharif, during which the latter was repeatedly urged to return to Pakistan if he is truly “ready for a war”.
According to PPP sources, Nawaz was told by Zardari: “If you are prepared to fight a war, you will have to return to your country.”
Zardari further said that all those who are war-ready “must be prepared to go to jail”.
The two leaders spoke amid a meeting of the opposition’s Pakistan Democratic Movement alliance which was held to decide on the contentious issue of mass resignations from parliament.
The matter has put the PPP at loggerheads with PML-N and JUI-F who had been calling to quit since December. The PPP, however, has been convincing them to opt for an in-house change and use the resignation strategy as a “last resort”.
According to the sources, Zardari told Nawaz that “whether it is the long march or a no-confidence motion, you will have to come to Pakistan”.
“I am ready for war but my domicile is different […] Mian sahab, you represent Punjab” the sources further quoted Zardari as saying.
Zardari also discussed at length the measures he took during his presidency, the sources said.
“I gave powers to the parliament and approved the NFC (National Finance Commission Award) for which my party and I were punished,” he said.
Zardari said that the PPP “is ready to fight until its last breath”, also citing how he had spent 14 years of his life in jail.
The PPP leader also reportedly questioned how Nawaz plans on solving the people’s problems.
“You never increased people’s wages in your tenure, whereas I increased them,” sources quoted Zardari as telling Nawaz.
Speaking of resignations from the assemblies, Zardari said that the move is tantamount to “strengthening Imran Khan’s position”.
The PPP co-chairman also said that no decision that sets the parties off on divergent paths must be made.
“Any differences between us will only serve the interests of those who are enemies of democracy,” he said.
Zardari, according to sources, said: “We do not fight from the mountains. We fight from within the parliament.”
The sources said that the PPP leader told the PML-N surpremo: “Mian sahab if you want en masse resignations then not only us, everyone will have to go to jail.”
‘Struggle against establishment must carry on’
According to PPP sources, Zardari said that “it is not the first time that democratic forces have witnessed rigging”.
“We mobilised the entire nation when Benazir returned to Pakistan in 1986 and then in 2007,” Zardari added, according to sources.
The long march will have to be organised in the same manner as our preparations in 1986 and 2007, he said.
“The struggle against the establishment must carry on for democratic stability,” he added.
‘Come back to Pakistan’
Zardari urged Nawaz to return to Pakistan along with Ishaq Dar. “We will then all fight together,” he said.
He said that while the other opposition parties contested the Senate elections, Ishaq Dar did not even come to cast his vote.
“When you return to Pakistan, we will hand over our resignations to you,” Zardari added.
‘Does Zardari sahab guarantee my father’s life is not in danger?’
Sources said that amid all the insistence by the PPP co-chairman for Nawaz to return, Maryam said that her father’s “life is danger” and questioned how he can return under the circumstances.
Sources said that she asked: “Does Zardari sahab guarantee that my father’s life will not be in danger in Pakistan?”
Maryam then reportedly said that she is there “of her own accord”.
“Just like you are on video link, so is Mian sahab,” she said.
She said that Nawaz’s life is “threatened under NAB custody” and that he had had “two heart attacks while in jail”.