ISLAMABAD - PPP Senator Aitzaz Ahsan on Tuesday alleged that ousted prime minister Nawaz Sharif got the then PM Yousaf Raza Gilani removed in connivance with the then chief justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry and DG ISI Lt Gen Ahmed Shuja Pasha.

The claim from the veteran PPP leader came in the Senate, while taking part in the debate on the situation arising out of the growing conflict between the state institutions and the continuation in office of Finance Minister Ishaq Dar, even after he is indicated by an accountability court in a corruption reference.

Aitzaz viewed that the ruling PML-N was blaming other state institutions of conspiring against it, though it, itself remained part of conspiracies against democracy, politicians, and the judiciary in the past.

The recent increase in prices of petroleum products and the sale of the PIA’s airbus allegedly at throwaway price to a foreign country were part of the debate in the specially summoned session of the Upper House on the requisition of opposition parties.

“I have information from the side of [former chief justice] Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry that you [Nawaz Sharif] got then PM Yousaf Raza Gilani removed in connivance with Iftikhar Chaudhry and then DG ISI Lt General Ahmed Shuja Pasha,” Ahsan said.

He added that now the PML-N was shedding crocodile tears on the removal of Gilani and saying that what happened was unjust.

Known lawyer Aitzaz who remained very close to former CJ Chaudhry during the 2007 lawyers’ movement for the restoration of superior judiciary, has already alleged that Gilani was removed by the Supreme Court through a conspiracy. But for the first time, he has named individuals publicly.

Gilani was convicted by a seven-member bench of the Supreme Court in a contempt of court case in April 2012 and consequently he stood disqualified.

Giving reference to the incidents of the past including judges tape scandal, attack on the Supreme Court, the unceremonious removal of then chief justice Justice Sajjad Ali Shah, Ahsan said that the PML-N was behind all those conspiracies.

“However after the removal of Nawaz in 1999 through a military coup, the PPP again signed the historical document – Charter of Democracy (CoD) — with the PML-N.” he said.

Ahsan said that he agreed to represent Nawaz in the court when he was in jail after 1999 coup on the advice of Benazir Bhutto.

He alleged that even then later Sharif went to the Supreme Court against the PPP in the Memogate scandal.

Ahsan further said that senior PML-N leader Ch Nisar Ali Khan kept complaining to him during the lawyers’ movement that Nawaz went to Jeddah leaving him and other leadership alone in Pakistan.

PML-Q Senator Mushahid Hussain Syed, once a close aide to Sharif, had similar opinion against Sharif, he said.

Two lawmakers from the treasury benches—PML-N Senator Saleem Zia and JUI-F Senator Hafiz Hamdullah — questioned  recent decision of ISI DG Lt General Rizwan Akhtar to retire early, and said no one had the courage to ask from the general why he had decided to get pre-mature retirement.

Zia criticised the TV analysts and said those holding the PML-N accountable daily could not dare to ask reasons from the former ISI chief of his early retirement from the army.

Hamdullah also said that political parties should dissociate themselves from those politicians who had close links with the military establishment and advised politicians not to become puppets.

Earlier, the lawmakers from the opposition benches taking part in the debate demanded resignation of Finance Minister Ishaq Dar after his indictment by an accountability court in an assets reference of the NAB.

They said that according to some media reports, the international financial institutions such as the IMF and the World Bank were reluctant to hold meeting with the finance minister after his indictment by a court.

They also advised the government that it was the time to unite instead of mudslinging on state institutions in the aftermaths of US President Donald Trump’s new South Asia policy and US statement against the CPEC.

When PTI Senator Azam Swati opened the debate, he severely criticised ousted PM Nawaz Sharif for “criticising the judiciary and the army.”

He also criticised the re-election of Sharif as the party head through the new legislation on the basis of majority in the parliament.

Swati and the PML-N Senator Mushahidullah Khan, a close aide to former prime minister, exchanged hot words when the latter responded to the remarks of the former.

However, Senate Chairman Mian Raza Rabbani barred both the senators from accusing each other, saying he would not allow mudslinging in the house. 

Mushahid said that after the US statement against the CPEC, it had become clear that why “[the] PTI had got delayed the visit of Chinese president in 2014 through its sit-in.”

The PPP lawmaker, Sherry Rehman, alleged that courts were lenient towards Sharif family at a time when they were facing cases and called it “luxury NAB package”. 

She said that outgoing NAB chairman Qamar Zaman Chaudhry appointed 21 deputy directors with the single stroke of a pen before his retirement. Rehman called it “a misappropriation”.

Railways Minister Khawaja Saad Rafique in response to the remarks of Aitzaz Ahsan said that he did not expect from an “experienced” party such as the PPP to enter in a blame game, while peeping into the history.

“We can expect this from the PTI but not the PPP,” he said, adding that everyone committed mistakes in politics and reminded the PPP about signing of the National Reconciliation Ordinance (NRO) with the military dictator Pervez Musharraf.

He said that political opponents used to forget how arm twisting was done in the past by military dictators.

Saad Rafique made it clear that the PML-N did not want confrontation with other state institutions but reserved the right to criticise the decisions of the Supreme Court.

“We have not said that some institution is conspiring against us,” he said.

Rafique blamed political opponents –the PTI—for initiating confrontation on the basis of Panama scandal.

“We are not part of any confrontation,” he said.  Rafique also said that Rangers issue in front of accountability court in Islamabad should not have happened.

Law Minister Zahid Hamid, while responding to the demand of the finance minister said that country’s economy had considerably improved during the stint of Ishaq Dar and had been recognised internationally.

The opposition lawmakers also came down hard on the PML-N government, what they said that sale of Airbus 310 at throwaway price by the PIA to Germany.

They also condemned the government for increasing petroleum prices at a time when there was decline in the international prices of petroleum products.

Parliamentary Affairs Minister Sheikh Aftab said that matter of plane sale was under investigation by the FIA and the parliamentary committee, while German national CEO of the airline had been sacked on allegations of misappropriation.

State Minister for Petroleum Jam Kamal in his response said that petroleum prices were determined keeping in view the international prices of crude oil, while tax structure on these varied from country to country.

He said that the prices in Pakistan were much better than other south Asian countries.