LONDON – PML-N President Nawaz Sharif has expressed the hope that Army Chief General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani will make sure the new Inter-Services Intelligence chief General Zaheerul Islam keeps his hands off the political affairs.

The chief of Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) was addressing a press conference here on Sunday after arriving in London from Switzerland a day earlier where he was on a private visit with his family members. Marvi Memon, Lord Nazir Ahmed, Furmanullah Marwat, Shahid Khakan Abbasi, Dr Anjum, Zubair Gull and others were present on this occasion.

Nawaz alleged that Pakistan People’s Party government was busy currying favour with the establishment in a grand conspiracy to stay in power and weaken the democratic process. He resolved that no matter what the temptations his party will never become part of the conspiracies hatched by the secret agencies to manage politics.

He said the spy agencies should not be allowed to take over the offices of political parties and indulge in horse trading as they did during Musharraf’s rule to help Q-League. He said if he comes to power, he will get the army’s budget debated in the parliament – a thing, he said, the current government has failed to do.

Nawaz said that he had never met or seen Yunus Habib in real life till his appearance on television in recent days when he levelled the charge that he (Younus) had paid Rs3.5 million to him (Nawaz) in person. “I have no idea why Younus Habib is doing it and on whose behest although there is a lot of speculation about his character in the media. What I know for fact is that he is a highly discredited man who brought financial ruin to his bank. Shahbaz Sharif has given him a proper reply.”

PML-N chief said his party made mistakes but had learnt the lesson with an intention that it would not deviate from the right path. His party has learnt to stand by his democratic principles and never be part of the sinful circle of politics that some quarters always wanted, he added.

He said his party is called anti-establishment by the ruling coalition in centre just because he has refused to sacrifice democratic norms for the sake of power. “If our position is not liked by the establishment then they are free to do so but there will be no compromise on truth and don’t expect any conspiracy from us.” Pakistan’s survival was linked to democracy and transparency and the fact that the mandate of the people was supreme, he said.

Nawaz Sharif asked the government to stop disrespecting institutions. Referring to PM Yousuf Raza Gilani’s address to Islamia University Bahawalpur convention few days back, he said it was a joke with Pakistani nation that its elected prime minister asked children on how to dodge the Supreme Court orders. He said Gilani couldn’t show character when he first criticised the “state within the state” and then retracted his statement by saying that he begged the ISI chief to take extension. He said a country like Pakistan deserved much better than the current set of rulers.

He said it was important to inform the public about who was responsible for bringing Pakistan to this stage. “Zardari and Gilani have failed to make Pakistan a forward looking country; they have failed the public mandate. It’s our misfortune that military generals impose martial laws on Pakistan without caring for Pakistan’s interest. It doesn’t matter for them whether they arrest or send out, or hang politicians. This is what our character has been in the last 60 years.”

Nawaz Sharif said it was right that a judicial commission was investigating the Memorandum scandal and should see if anyone involved in conspiring against the interests of Pakistan. He said the memo inquiry will help strengthen democracy in Pakistan.

Nawaz Sharif said though PPP government has brought Pakistan to a very difficult situation, but there was no reason to be pessimistic and there were ways to take the country out of this abyss. He said he formed alliance with Benazir Bhutto – and later with Asif Ali Zardari – in the spirit of supporting democracy and with realisation that the PPP leadership will be a partner in the process of reform but they showed over time that their only goal was to stay in power and amass wealth at any cost, without recognising the heavy price the country was paying for their excesses.

He said his party pulled out from the coalition after realising that President Zardari didn’t have a vision and had no regard for the accord they had jointly signed for a democratic set up. He added that when he realised that staying in the government would mean being partners in crimes of the current government he decided to call it a day.

“We have never followed a personal agenda but when we saw that PPP was motivated by greed we parted our ways. We are Pakistan friendly but the charge of friendly opposition is wrong. Had Zardari been sincere Pakistan would have been leading the way of progress in the entire South Asian region.”

Nawaz Sharif said his party, after coming to power, will end Pakistan’s isolation in the world community, will curb terrorism, and will restore the status of Pakistan, as he did after deciding to go for nuclear blasts. He maintained that he had learnt a lot from the mistakes committed in the past. The PML-N would not take any other way except democracy as it is the sole solution to the problems Pakistan has been facing for a long time now, he said. He said that his party and partners would not be trapped by any greed or seduction.

Speaking on the occasion, Marvi Memon said that PML-N aimed to form the next government in provinces and the centre. She said there was a heavy responsibility on the workers of the party to respond to the calls of the Pakistanis who were gasping for change and needed effective leadership in the shape of Nawaz Sharif.

Lord Nazir Ahmed of Rotherham said overseas Pakistanis loved him and praised Nawaz Sharif for taking a strong stance on Balochistan. “This government is full of corrupt and crooked people. This government has taken corruption to a new height, never seen before in the history of Pakistan.” He said those who were on Britain’s social security system have become millionaires after looting the resources of Pakistan. He asked Nawaz Sharif to support the representation of overseas Pakistanis in Pakistan’s electoral process.

Zubair Gull welcomed Marvi Memon in the party ranks and said her decision to join the party had proved that graph of PML-N popularity was on the rise. He said Nawaz Sharif’s politics was for the survival of Pakistan. He said those who had left the party were opportunists but the time will prove they were misguided.