PESHAWAR - Former president and co-chairman Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) Asif Ali Zardari has said he had advised deposed prime minister Nawaz Sharif not to act like a Mughal prince but to no avail.

Addressing a gathering here on Monday, Zardari accepted the results of by-poll in NA-120 constituency. “We did compete for a seat, however, it was Nawaz Sharif’s own constituency.”

“Maryam Nawaz’s speech has a lot in it to evaluate; I had warned Nawaz Sharif not to become ‘Shehzada Saleem’,” Zardari said. “He had assumed the role of Mughal prince ‘Saleem’ though”.

Zardari said that if Nawaz intended to implement Charter of Democracy back in the day, then the PPP workers wouldn’t have languished in jails. “I had warned them not to be royalty but they turned into kings and princes,” said the former president mocking the PML-N leadership.

“I don’t see the establishment backing me up,” said Zardari, adding that he sees a ‘Jiyala’ at his back.  “In Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, we will form government in the 2018 general elections and bring youth forward.”

Zardari also alleged that said efforts were being made to weaken the PPP but the party was not afraid as it has always preached democracy.

“The PPP is a federation party with its presence in all four provinces,” the former president said while addressing a workers convention in Nowshera. “Efforts are being made to weaken our party but we are not afraid (to face this) because we preach love and democracy.”

The former president also claimed that he understands the nation’s pain better than all other (political opponents).

Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) should not lose hope, he said, adding that the PPP will combine the powers of the province with its own strength to bring an end to all of KP’s issues.

Later talking to media at the residence of late PTI MNA Gulzar Khan, the former president underscored the need for shunning politics of confrontation and instead concentrate on politics based on strengthening state organs.

Earlier, Ghulam Muhammad, a former MPA and JUI-F leader and Fazl-e-Rabi of Jammat-e-Islami announced joining of PPP. Zardari said he had great expectations from the youth which could put the country on track to development. He urged leaders of other parties to take the youth into confidence while making major decisions in their party ranks. He said that PPP wished the youth to come forward and play a role in the development of the country.

In response to a question, the former president said that Liaqat Jatoi’s departure from the party would have no impact on the PPP. Zardari vowed that ahead of the 2018 general election, the PPP would give a special programme for the youth in its manifesto. He said that the PPP gave jobs to the youth while Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) was rendering them jobless.

He said that the PPP gave identity to KP and also gave provincial autonomy under the 18th Constitutional Amendment. He said that KP had abundant resources, including coal, minerals and natural gas, but the provincial government needed to properly tap these resources.

He said that the PTI-led provincial government failed to fully utilize the allocated amount for development schemes.

Meanwhile, scores of PPP activists protested after they were not allowed to meet Zardari. They complained that some self-centered people had hijacked the PPP while the ideological workers had been entirely ignored.

PPP Peshawar President Fakhar Alam said that he had come along with 300 party workers to meet Zardari but unfortunately Zardari left without meeting the ideological workers. He said that a large number of people from far-flung areas had showed up to meet Zardari but he left through another gate without even shaking hands with party workers.

One of the party workers, Noman, had brought a picture of the late Benazir Bhutto to gift it to Zardari but he was not allowed to enter the residence of Hamayun Khan and Asad Gulzar. 

He said that he would join the PTI as there was no respect for the youth in the PPP. The former president also spoke to party workers in Nowshehra.