Pakistan

LAHORE – Ousted prime minister Nawaz Sharif has said that he was not in favour of a clash among state institutions but avoiding such confrontation was not his responsibility alone.

“This not my sole responsibility, it is of all of us,” he told BBC Urdu, in an interview broadcast on Thursday, reiterating his resolve of not letting the sanctity of the people’s vote be disrespected.

Answering a question about worsening relations between different institutions of the state, Sharif said that he was not in favour of taking a collision course but it was everyone’s responsibility to ensure that the need does not arise.

His clarification came amidst mounting criticism from opponents that he has been riling up his loyalists against state institutions after his ouster by the Supreme Court.

During the interview, Sharif also spoke about other issues that have dogged his career.

Dispelling the impression that his relations with all army chiefs have been poor, Sharif said: “I have had good relations with some [generals].”

“I have always acted according to the law,” he added, apparently to suggest that he never crossed a line in his interactions with the country’s powerful military.

“Dictatorships have destroyed the country,” Sharif said, adding that the entire army was not involved in the martial law in 1999. Instead, he held Gen Pervez Musharraf and “some of his supporters” responsible for the dismissal of his government at the turn of the century.

“The rest of the army did not even know a martial law had been imposed,” he claimed.

Moving on to his future plans, Sharif said: “A direction has now been identified and the struggle to uphold the sanctity of the vote will continue.”

While claiming that becoming prime minister again was no longer his goal, he also said that becoming one is in itself “not less of a sacrifice.”

Referring to criticism directed at him by the PPP leadership, which has distanced itself from the PML-N’s claims of democracy being in ‘crisis’, Nawaz said that: “I have not asked anything of him [Zardari] and neither do I plan to.”

Sharif, however, said he fully backed Chairman Senate Raza Rabbani’s suggestion of a dialogue between the state’s institutions and said that he had asked some of his friends to talk to Rabbani about his ideas.

“I never violated the Charter of Democracy during my tenure or before coming into power,” Sharif said, answering a question about the difference in attitude towards other political parties between when he is in power and when he is not.

During the interview, he also took aim at the Supreme Court-sanctioned joint investigation team (JIT) that investigated his family’s financial dealings in the Panamagate case, saying it comprised “some of the worst” of his enemies and critics.