Islamabad: As the PPP-led government on Thursday launched countrywide crackdown to derail a PML-N supported mass rally, Pakistan’s top Opposition leader Nawaz Sharif has accused the government of plotting to kill him.
Pakistan was on the brink of political chaos, with an imminent showdown between the defiant former premier Sharif and the government, which launched a crackdown on opposition activists and lawyers ahead of Thursday’s planned ‘Long March’ for the reinstatement of the judiciary dismissed by former military ruler Pervez Musharraf.
Protesters vowed to press ahead with the march onto Pakistan’s parliament in defiance of bans.
Sharif, who has been threatened with slapping of sedation charges, said he had received “certain information from own sources, credible sources, about certain forces who are active against me”.
“Threats to my life come from high-ranking government officials, certain topmost people in the government, my sources say,” the former premier said without giving any details.
“The risks are there. I can’t abandon my mission because of the risks. It’s a very noble cause. A mission to put the country back on the road to democracy,” he said.
The government has indicated that unruly mass protests could be used by terrorists to create law and order problem in the country, which is already facing the onslaught by Taliban and other Islamist militants.
The political crisis sparked off by a Supreme Court order barring Sharif and his brother Shabaz from contesting elections deepened, with the government ordering the arrest of hundreds of opposition activists and lawyers ahead of the ‘Long March’ to reinstate former Supreme Court Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry.
President Asif Ali Zardari has refused to reinstate Chaudhry, who was removed in 2007 by President Musharraf. Zardari’s aides allege Chaudhry has become too politicised and Sharif is only exploiting the issue.
The “Long March” protest was planned by a coalition of parties, led by Sharif’s party, and pro-judiciary groups.
Sharif, in an interview to a British daily, accused Zardari of ruling under a cloak of democracy.
“Sometimes we [Pakistanis] are caught up in military dictatorships. Now we are caught up in a democratic dictatorship,” said Sharif. “In the garb of democracy we are, frankly, under dictatorial rule,” the newspaper quoted Sharif as saying in a report from Lahore.
The Sharif brothers have been on the warpath since Zardari imposed Governor’s Rule in the politically crucial Punjab province after the Supreme Court’s verdict against them.
Army Chief General Ashfaq Kayani is said to have told the political leadership to end the confrontation quickly. Political analysts feel that if serious civil unrest follows, it could lead to some form of intervention by the country’s powerful military, which has often stepped in to seize power when there is a political chaos.