ISLAMABAD - Former president Asif Ali Zardari is in no mood to go soft on Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif amid brewing tension with the army, The Nation has learnt.

The Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) leader has been accused in the past of playing “friendly opposition” as Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chief Imran Khan confronted Sharif’s government.

Close aides of the former president said that he believed Sharif had lost the right to rule after the Panama leaks verdict and the Dawn leaks report - which was “rejected” by the army.

Prime Minister Sharif, acting on the Dawn leaks report - removed Special Assistant on Foreign Affairs Tariq Fatemi but did not sack him as the special assistant.

The prime minister also fired Principal Information Officer Tehsin Rao and recommended action against the newspaper that published the controversial story.

Former information minister Pervez Rashid had already been sacked.

He remains a senator.

A close aide of Zardari told The Nation, that the PPP co-chairman was not ready to support Sharif in this critical situation but would take it as an opportunity to revive his party.

“We will go all out against the government and speak about Panama leaks and the Dawn leaks. They [the government] have always taken our silence for granted,” he said.

Another PPP leader said that Zardari would continue his mass-contact campaign to mobilse the public against the government.

“There will be no more silence from us. That time is gone now,” he added.

Yesterday, Zardari’s spokesperson Senator Farhatullah Babar said that the PPP wanted the government to make public the inquiry report in the so-called Dawn leaks to allay a host of doubts and misgivings.

In a statement, he said that the unceremonious sacking of Special Assistant Tariq Fatemi and Principal Information Officer Tehsin Rao, the unprecedented advice to the All Pakistan Newspapers Society to proceed against the editor and reporter and the highly unprecedented public rejection by the military of actions taken as “incomplete and not in line with recommendations of the inquiry board” makes it absolutely necessary that the report was made public.

“Confusion is confounded by the remarks attributed earlier to Tariq Fatemi dismissing the reports that he had been shown the door.  The categorical statement of interior minister in Karachi that his ministry had not yet issued any notification just when the PM’s Office had indeed issued orders has given rise to several questions that need answers,” Babar said.

He said that the public statement by the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) through a tweet rejecting publicly the order issued by the PM’s Office lent a new dimension to the incident that “will give rise to some serious questions which will refuse to die down.”

“The botching up of the incident is a measure of the incompetence of the government and insistence to keep the inquiry report under wraps will only complicate the matters further,” Babar said, recalling the statement of the interior minister at the time that the report shall be made public.

He said that initially the government sought to clarify the new report sometimes as “baseless and fabricated” and sometimes as “planted”.

Despite declaring it as untrue at the time the government also termed the report as posing “threat to national security” without explaining how.

Asking the media watchdog the APNS to take action against the editor and reporter for alleged breach of national security, takes the issue of stifling freedom of expression in the name of national security to new heights, he said.

“These are some of the issues that call for making public the inquiry report and a thorough debate in the parliament for devising appropriate guidelines,” he said.

Meanwhile, in a statement, Asif Ali Zardari said that the Labour Day was an occasion to pay homage to the workers and wage earners as well as to renew the pledge to defend the dignity and ensure decent living to the workers of the country.

He also vowed to not permit sacking of workers in the name of privatisation.

“The party will strive hard and harder for protecting the rights and privileges of the working classes and to expand them even further,” Zardari said.

Zardari said that the PPP would always stand by the working classes as they continued their struggle for dignity and rights.

He said that the PPP was keeping an eye on the privatisation process and would not permit the regime to sack workers in the name of privatisation.

“The party saves workers’ jobs and will not allow retrenchments,” Zardari added.

The former president said that both the founding PPP Chairperson, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto and his daughter Benazir Bhutto - promised workers right to job security, decent wages and right to dignity and a rightful place in the society.

“They also struggled alongside the labour for the attainment of these rights. We will ensure that the promises made by our leaders are fulfilled in letter and spirit,” Zardari said.

In a separate statement on Sunday, PPP Senator Rubina Khalid said that Imran Khan was unaware of difficulties faced by the people of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa but he had gone to Karachi in a bid to revive his declining popularity.

The senator alleged that the revenue collected in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa was being spent to serve the person residing in Bani Gala.

“Peshawar which was once known as the “City of Flowers” is now flooded whenever there is a little rain,” she said.

Senator Khalid said that Mashaal Khan’s family was looking for justice but Imran Khan could not apprehend his party’s councillor who was the “main character” in the murder.

“Imran Khan is not conscientious enough to refuse Rs10 billion to keep mum on Panama corruption scandal,” she maintained.