MARDAN -  Sounding upbeat about early elections, former president Asif Ali Zardari yesterday said Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif must go soon, as according to him, not a single judge who penned the verdict in the Panama leaks case has found him “innocent”.

Addressing a big rally at Railway Ground in Mardan, Zardari talked about several issues, including the NFC award, blocking of CNIs of Pakhtuns and the CPEC project.

At the same time, he ridiculed and mocked leaders and workers of Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz and Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) for distributing sweets, each claiming victory in the Panama leaks case.

“Mian Nawaz Sharif does not read books and if he had read a book written by a judge, he would have understood,” he said while alluding to the recent judgment handed down by the five-member bench in the Panama leaks case.

Asif Ali Zardari said that in the Panama case decision no judge said that Nawaz Sharif was innocent. “Both the parties didn’t understand what happened and both are eating and distributing sweets”, he added. Zardari said Nawaz Sharif must go immediately and general elections would be held in the country very soon.

Enumerating achievements of the previous People’s Party government, Zardari said, “We gave provincial autonomy, managed NFC Award, renamed NWFA as Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, hoisted Pakistani flag in Malakand division, conducted operations in six Fata agencies, managed thousands of IDPs and initiated the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) project”. In the same vein, he said the current government had miserably failed to manage the NFC Award. He accused the PML-N government of stealing the CPEC project from PPP.

The former president also came down hard on the federal government for blocking computerised national identity cards (CNICs) of Pakhtuns, urging the rulers to unblock them immediately.

Zardari also demanded of the government to immediately merge Fata with Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. “If PPP is voted to power, we will again provide jobs to the masses and also increase salaries of government employees,” he said.

He also raised slogan, “Go Nawaz Go” amid the cheering crowd.

Zardari also strongly criticised PTI Chief Imran Khan, discounting the notion that he could be the leader of the KP youth. “Imran Khan claims he is a Pakhtun, but he neither knows Pushto nor has his family a Pakhtun lineage. However, his lineage hails from Tiger Niazi,” he said.

Provincial PPP President Humayun Khan and former federal minister Khawaja Muhammad Khan Hoti also addressed the public rally.

Former National Assembly deputy speaker Nawaz Khokar, Senator Khanzada Khan, Nayyer Hussain Bukhari, Farhatullah Babar, Arbab Alamgir, Asma Alamgir, Najmudin Khan, Liyaquat Shabab, former minister Hayatullah Durrani, Akhunzada Chatan, Nighat Orakzai and other party leaders were also present.

A large number of party workers from different areas and surrounding districts made it to the rally venue. They raised slogans in favour of Zardari and Bilawal Bhutto Zardari and other party leaders. Mardan-Nowshera Road had been decorated with huge portraits of Zardari, Bilawal and other party leaders.