30,000 strong PML-N rally demands Zardari ouster
Lahore: The opposition PML-N on Friday launched
a scathing attack on President Asif Ali Zardari, with senior
party leader Shahbaz Sharif saying the Pakistan People`s Party
chief and his associates would be "hung upside down" at a
square if he did not resign from his post.
Sharif, the Chief Minister of Punjab province and younger
brother of PML-N chief Nawaz Sharif, led a gathering of about
30,000 supporters in chanting the slogan "Go Zardari Go".
Sharif and several other PML-N leaders criticised the
PPP-led government and Zardari for failing to tackle problems
like corruption, price rise and power cuts.
"With this gathering as witness, I want to tell Zardari
that the 180 million people (of Pakistan) have risen up
against you. Vacate your seat by yourself, return our money or
you and your looting associates will be hung upside down at
this chowk," Sharif told the rally at Bhatti Chowk in Lahore.
The gathering in Lahore was "ready for the final battle
against Zardari and his associates" Sharif said.
Comparing Zardari and his aides to "Ali Baba and the 40
thieves," Sharif said the PML-N would not rest in peace till
it "chases them away".
The outburst marked a new low in relations between the
PPP, which heads the federal government, and the PML-N, which
rules Punjab, the country`s most populous and politically
Though the PML-N joined the PPP-led government after the
2008 general election, it pulled out of the coalition within
In recent weeks, the PML-N has repeatedly attacked the
PPP for alleged corruption and failure to tackle a crippling
energy crisis that triggered violent protests across Punjab.
Political analysts said today`s rally marked the PML-N`s
decision to direct its tirade against President Zardari, whose
popularity has fallen over the past few years.
Shahbaz Sharif pointedly targeted Zardari in his speech
but spared Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani.
"Give your resignation or parliament will hold you
accountable," he said.
Sharif claimed there would be an Egypt-like uprising and
Zardari would have no chance to escape the people`s wrath.
"Just as we destroyed dengue, we will destroy you
(Zardari) and your associates," Sharif said.
"We have to restore the original map of Pakistan and for
that we will hold Zardari by his collar," he said.
Political analysts said the PML-N had launched the drive
against Zardari with an eye on elections to the Senate or
upper house of parliament scheduled for March next year.
The PPP is widely expected to gain a majority in the
104-member Senate in the polls.
The PML-N`s campaign is also aimed at countering the
rising popularity of cricketer-turned-politician Imran Khan,
who has increased his following in Punjab.
Some analysts believe the PML-N wants to topple the
PPP-led government through its protests and force an early
The PML-N has claimed that its drive will eventually
force Zardari to quit the presidency.
Though PML-N chief Nawaz Sharif was supposed to lead the
campaign, he is currently on an private visit to Turkey.
The PML-N rally was also a demonstration of its strength
in its stronghold of Punjab.
Amidst allegations that the party used state machinery
and resources for the rally, PML-N lawmakers mobilised a large
number of people from Lahore and adjoining districts like
Sheikhupura, Nankana Sahib, Kasur and Sialkot.
PML-N workers thronged the venue with party flags and
portraits of their leaders.
A sizeable number of women joined the rally.
The crude anti-Zardari slogans at the rally, however,
prompted PPP leaders like Babar Awan to comment that the PML-N
had stooped to a new low.