Sharif playing into hands of military: Zardari aide



Sharif playing into hands of military: Zardari aide Lahore: Smelling a conspiracy in Nawaz Sharif's move to ask the Supreme Court to probe the memogate scandal, a close aide of ailing President Asif Ali Zardari has alleged that the PML-N chief is playing into the hands of the military establishment to strangle democracy.

"I second the apprehension of Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani that the democratic set-up is under threat following the memogate scandal," former Law Minister Babar Awan said.

He was referring to a secret memo that sought American help to stave off a possible military coup in Pakistan in May after the killing of al-Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden.

Awan warned the main opposition PML-N's leadership that it would not be just the PPP-led government which would be sent home in the current turmoil, but the whole democratic system would be packed up if politicians failed to protect it.

On Sharif's move to "bypass" Parliament and involve the Supreme Court in investigating the memogate scandal, Awan said it was regrettable that the former Premier had not learnt a lesson from his past dealings with the military.

"Nawaz Sharif was instrumental in toppling Benazir Bhutto's government twice and preferred to run away from Pakistan after making a deal with a dictator (Pervez Musharraf)," Awan said.

It was now clear why Sharif did not want to go to Parliament, he added.

"A rope has been provided to Sharif (to strangle the democratically-elected government)," Awan said, highlighting the PML-N's role in the memo case.

"The PPP will check any attack on Parliament with the help of the people, and the government will complete its remaining term of 15 months," he asserted.

The secret memo was delivered to former US military chief Admiral Mike Mullen a week after the US operation that killed bin Laden in Abbottabad.

Pakistan's Ambassador to the US, Husain Haqqani, was forced to resign over the controversy though he said he had played no role in drafting or delivering the memo.

The scandal has pitched the military and the civilian government against each other.

Matters took a turn for the worse after Zardari abruptly left for Dubai on December 6 to seek treatment for a heart condition.

Asked about Zardari's return to Pakistan, Awan said the President's doctors alone could set a date for this.

However, Punjab Governor Latif Khosa, who too is a close aide of the President, said Zardari would return home this month.

"President Zardari is coming back this month," Khosa told reporters.

Like Awan, the Governor too said Sharif should have strengthened Parliament instead of filing a petition regarding the memo in the apex court.

"The world is laughing at us because of the memo scandal," he said.

PTI