Prime Minister Imran Khan on Saturday evening, while addressing the Tiger Force Convention in Islamabad, turned his guns on former prime minister Nawaz Sharif — calling him out on his past links to dictators and dismissing his stance as a desperate attempt to save a legacy which has become mired in corruption cases.
The address came a day after the Opposition’s Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) held its first power show in Gujranwala.
PM Imran Khan started off his address by welcoming the Tiger Force volunteers and thanking them for their enthusiasm. He was interrupted at multiple times by the crowd, which continued loudly shouting its support for the prime minister.
“You have to be quiet. You have to listen to me quietly,” he asked multiple times. “It is important that I say what I need to say.”
He then thanked the Tiger Force for its activities since it was formed on March 28.
“I would like to thank you on behalf of the nation,” he said, before he was interrupted and had to ask for some quiet again.
“You will enjoy what I have to say if you are quiet. Because there was a circus last night and I want to talk about it as well.”
Addressing the Tiger Force, which is largely comprised of youth volunteers, he said that it is important for them to understand their position and the importance of their work.
“The volunteer force has a high stature in society, because you have to protect the rights of our citizens. This is a big role in a democracy: Tigers, you have a big role. Pakistanis are a nation who stand for their country,” he said.
“I cannot speak to you everyday, so listen to me: We are a nation of people who have a big heart.
‘Wheat shortage due to irregular rainfall’
“There was a shortfall in wheat in Pakistan because in the last two years it rained at the wrong time due to climate change,” he said.
“I have called you today because there is inflation in our country and there are many reasons for it. The rupee has fallen against the dollar because when we got the government, we had the largest trade deficit.”
“There was a $40 billion trade deficit. When the rupee falls, whatever we buy from outside, the price of it increases — such as gas, petrol and electricity — all of this increases. I’m not referring to diesel on purpose,” he said.
Referring again to irregular rainfall, which he had blamed for the wheat shortage, PM Imran Khan said, “It rained when the wheat was supposed to be thrashed. That decreased the supply of wheat, and we saw a deficit. We needed 7.2 million tonnes of wheat. When there was a deficit, the price of wheat increased.”
“We found out about the shortage late, because the systems we had were not right. We have countered that deficit by importing [wheat].”
“I need your help to counter hoarding. What you have to do is that you will not intervene yourself. You all have a mobile phone: you have to take picture and put it it up on the portal that we have launched.”
“It is the job of the administration to take action, the responsibility of [finding who is] hoarding is on you,” he said.
“You will help the administration. You will not to interfere — because [you have to realise] that people will [pose as] Tigers to blackmail shopkeepers, which is why [I am asking] you that do not interfere,” he warned.
“The sugar mill producers are few in number, and most of them are very powerful. The Sharif family and the Zardari family both have sugar mills. For the first time, a detailed inquiry was held regarding sugar. I am telling the nation today that under the plan we are introducing, you will not get overpriced sugar,” he said.
‘The circus that happened yesterday’
“I now want to talk about the circus that happened yesterday. You will not enjoy it if you keep shouting slogans,” he continued.
“I promise you that you will enjoy what I have to say on the circus. Eleven years ago, I had predicted this that there will be this circus,” he said, before asking that an old video clip be played that showed him making that claim.
“I had predicted that when we go after these robbers, they will unite. You saw last night that they were together.”
“I will not talk about the two children who made speeches; I do not want to talk about them,” he said, referring to Maryam Nawaz and Bilawal Bhutto.
“One of them may be a grandmother, but she is still a child for me,” he continued. “The reason (I do not want want to talk about them) is that no human can be considered to be a leader till they undergo a struggle. These two have not done an hour’s halal work in their lives!”
“The two who are lecturing today, they were raised on the haram earned by their two respective fathers. It is pointless to talk about them,” he said.
“I want to talk about the person who spoke from London,” he said, referring to Nawaz Sharif.
“But before that you have to see his face when he wanted to go to England, and what has happened to his face when he is finally in England,” he continued.
Behind him, two pictures of Nawaz Sharif were projected on a screen — one showing him in an unflattering light, the other of him passionately addressing his supporters last night at the Gujranwala Jalsa.
“When Shireen Mazari saw this (referring to the unflattering photo), she became teary-eyed. I am telling you again — seeing tears in Shireen Mazari’s eyes is not a normal thing. She isn’t so easily moved,” he said as the crowd roared with laughter.
“Even I would have been teary eyed if I hadn’t known him [Nawaz Sharif] so well,” he quipped.
PM Imran Khan slams Nawaz for being a hypocrite
While he had been in a light mood, mocking and taunting the opposition, at this point, the prime minister’s tone suddenly turned serious.
“My Tigers and the Pakistani youth: in all of South Asia’s history, there has not been a government in India which hates Muslims and Pakistan as much as Narendra Modi’s government does.
“Attacks are being carried out against our soldiers: our soldiers are sacrificing their lives. Just day before yesterday, 20 of Pakistan’s security forces were martyred,” he said, his voice rising.
“Why are they sacrificing their lives? It’s for us and this country!” he said.
“And this jackal [Nawaz Sharif], who ran from here, is sitting there [in London] used this language against our army chief and the DG ISI,” he said as the crowd shouted in anger.
“This is the Nawaz Sharif — and many of you will not remember because you were not even born then — this is that Nawaz Sharif who became a minister by [gaining favour with] General Jilani!” the prime minister thundered.
“This is the same person who became chief minister polishing General Ziaul Haq’s boots,” he added.
“This is that same man who took millions from the Mehran Bank from former ISI chief General Asad Durrani to fight elections against Benazir Bhutto.”
“This is the man that jailed Asif Zardari twice — General [Qamar] Bajwa was not the one to do that. He [Nawaz] used to say he [Zardari] was ‘Pakistan’s most corrupt man’,” he recalled.
PM Imran points to PML-N’s targeting of PPP in the past
“Zardari made the Hudaybia Paper Mills case against him [Nawaz], where billions were sent abroad through corruption, and then Nawaz Sharif made the case against him [Zardari] — General Bajwa did not do that.”
“There was a book published called Capitalism’s Achilles Heel; Raymond Baker wrote this book. This was after their first tenure, when they took turns twice and plundered the county. In that book, there was an entire chapter that described how they stole money from the country and took it abroad — General Bajwa did not write that book, Raymond Baker wrote it.”
The prime minister referenced three other books which he claimed included information about how the leaders of the PML-N and the PPP had damaged Pakistan.
“In the book The Way of the World, it says that Bilawal’s mother used to call him [Bilawal] and the CIA had tapped the phone calls. She used to tell him in which banks his money was stashed,” he claimed.
“Another [such book] is Ghost Wars — in that the author is saying that Nawaz Sharif told the US to bring their forces because he was afraid of his own army: he was asking American forces for protection! It is written in that book!” he said.
“These are people who can sell their country to save their stolen money. Money is their god. What they have done to their country is what Mir Jaffar and Mir Sadiq did to their nations before them for their personal gains. They turned their country into slaves for their personal gains,” the prime minister said.
‘Nawaz has attacked Pakistan Army’
“What he [Nawaz] has said sitting outside is against Pakistan Army: it is not an attack on Gen Bajwa, but an attack on the Pakistani army,” the prime minister said.
“This is the same thing Narendra Modi was saying. Narendra Modi has given statements multiple times that ‘we like Nawaz Sharif, but the Pakistan Army chief is a terrorist’. He said this multiple times and Nawaz Sahrif did not say a word,” PM Imran Khan said.
“Why does Modi not say that ‘Imran Khan is right but General Bajwa is wrong’? Because he knows that I have shown his [Modi’s] real face to the world — how much of an extremist he is!” he claimed.
“Nawaz Sharif is getting praise in Indian papers today: they say he is very democratic and that he is telling the army to do its work. Does India not know that Gen Zia [ul Haq] put him [Nawaz] on his lap and gave him a milk feeder? Where was his democracy there?”
“Does India not know that this is the prime minister who got the Supreme Court attacked?”
“And then look at the injustices he has perpetrated: he brought the judiciary by giving them briefcases [full of money],” the PM alleged. “The same Nawaz Sharif is now becoming very democratic. The Nawaz Sharif who used to telephone Justice Qayoom telling him not to sentence Benazir [Bhutto] for three years but for five!”
“It is this Nawaz Sharif who made Qamar Zaman the NAB chairman and made him close the cases against him. He is okay with the judiciary till it is with him: if the Hudaibiya Paper Mills case is shut, the judiciary is very good, but when a five-member bench convicts him in the Panama case, he says ‘kyun nikala’ and starts attacking the judiciary,” he said.
‘He lies, his brother lies, his sons lie and his daughter lies’
The prime minister continued lashing out at Nawaz Sharif for attacking Gen Qamar Bajwa in his speech.
“Was the Panamagate case done by Gen Bajwa?” he asked. “Were those International allegations the fault of Pakistanis? It was revealed across the world how every country’s politician stole from their country and kept that money in offshore countries. Whose fault was it?”
“Here he lies shamelessly in front of the people. He lies, his brother lies, his sons lie, his daughter lies! And then they go make speeches about them standing for democracy.”
“Let’s talk about election,” the premier continued. “In the 2013 elections, 137 petitions were filed for National Assembly seats that were challenged on alleged rigging. In 2018, there were only 90 complaints. In Punjab, where they are confined, the PML-N had 11 petitions and PTI had 13.”
“If we filed more petitions than they did, who can say there was rigging?” he asked. “Even the Free and Fair Election Network (FAFEN) said the election had been much better than in 2013.”
The prime minister once again reiterated that the government had offered to the opposition to ask for any four constituencies to be re-opened, but said it never took up the offer. He recalled that when the PTI had demanded the same in 2014, the constituencies they had challenged had indeed turned out to have been rigged.
“Then these are the people claim the  election was rigged.”