ISLAMABAD - Former president Asif Ali Zardari and ex-prime minister Nawaz Sharif will never opt for plea bargain for their release as offered by Premier Imran Khan, close aides said.

Both the Pakistan People’s Party and the Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz) leaders are currently behind bars. Zardari has been remanded into National Accountability Bureau’s custody in a money laundering case. He was arrested from his house in Islamabad’s F-8 on June 10. Nawaz Sharif is completing his sentence after being convicted by an accountability court in the Al Azizia Steel Mills reference.

Close aides of the two senior politicians told The Nation that both were not ready to ‘risk’ their politics by opting for the plea bargain.

“Zardari has clearly said he will not pay a penny for his release. This would mean confession,” said a PPP leader who remains in contact with Zardari.

He said Zardari had spent a good portion of his life in jails and was never convicted in any corruption case.

PPP, PML-N to work jointly against govt

A senior leader of the PML-N, quoting Nawaz Sharif, said the former premier was not ready to ‘give up.’ “Nawaz Sharif cannot confess what he has never done. He is strong although his health is very weak,” the PML-N leader said.

This week, Prime Minister Imran Khan said the only way for the release of Asif Ali Zardari and Nawaz Sharif was to ‘return the money’.

PM Khan said sons of a ‘former ruler’ – referring to Nawaz Sharif -  had approached two foreign countries requesting them to convince Imran Khan to offer amnesty to their father.  He said leadership of those countries told him that they knew him and will not ask him for any leniency.

Imran Khan said he has asked the Law Ministry to legislate something that removes these money launderers from A class jails and imprisons them into jails where any other Pakistani thief would be imprisoned. “Why have we kept money launderers as VIPs,” he questioned.

Separately, Interior Minister Ijaz Shah said Prime Minister Imran Khan will quit the government but will not compromise with the opposition.

Yesterday, PPP chief Bilawal Bhutto lashed out at Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf leader Jahangir Tareen for announcing agricultural policy.

In a statement, the PPP chief said that punished and ineligible ‘deputy prime minister’ was addressing the nation on the policy. This is new Pakistan of hypocrites, he added.

Bilawal asked why Jahangir Tareen held a news conference at Press Information Department as only eligible ministers were allowed to use that venue.

PML-N leader Marriyum Aurangzeb said that Tareen holding presser at PID was a contempt of court. “The one who admitted money laundering is using government resources,” she continued.

Aurangzeb also said the one declared liar by the Supreme Court was telling truth to the people. Earlier, PTI leader Jahangir Tareen and Minister for National Food Security and Research Sahibzada Mehboob Sultan addressed a news conference in Islamabad and announced agricultural emergency programme worth Rs309 billion.

PML-N President Shehbaz Sharif yesterday accused Prime Minister Imran Khan of levelling false allegations against party’s Punjab president and former Punjab law minister Rana Sanaullah.

“The prime minister has ruined the country’s economy,” he said and added the government presented anti-poor budget. “The whole nation is worried.”

PPP and the PML-N meanwhile are in contact to work jointly against the government.

“The leaders of the two parties are in regular contact. The opposition will take joint decisions about the anti-government campaign,” said a senior PPP leader.

The two parties had participated in an All Parties Conference recently called by Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam (Fazl) to devise strategy against the government.