“You again want to trap us, but we will not be ensnared,” is how Nawaz Sharif responded smilingly to President-elect Asif Zardari’s offer to come back in the ruling coalition.
Leading a high-level delegation of his party, the PML-N chief met Zardari on Monday to congratulate him on his election as president of Pakistan.
“Because of your election as president, you have become too serious, not smiling and speaking very little,” Nawaz Sharif remarked in a lighter vein to Zardari after finding him reserved and withdrawn, according to a participant. “No, I am normal,” is how the president responded.
When the delegation members stood up to leave the Prime Minister’s House, Zardari invited Nawaz Sharif to re-join the ruling alliance, saying it was their collective responsibility to cooperate in and out of parliament.
The PML-N leader said in plain words that his party would play the role of the opposition and would be positive in its approach towards the government’s policies. At no point, he said, would the PML-N be negative.
The participant said there was not even a passing mention of the tension that has built up in the Punjab because of Governor Salmaan Taseer’s outbursts against the provincial government. There was no reference either to any new constitutional package.
“It was just a courtesy call to congratulate Zardari on his election. We have set a new tradition in Pakistan. Before this, we were just hearing or watching on TV screens losing candidates greeting the winner. But this has now happened in Pakistan as well because of our policy,” a PML-N leader commented.
He said the PML-N wants to give a free hand to the government and the presidency to work and deliver so that none from them could blame it for any of their failures. “Our walkout from the federal cabinet first and then from the coalition after some time was based on principles. We have proved that even if we choose separate paths because of our differences, we can still have working relations, shorn of acrimony.”
The PML-N leader said the message from Nawaz Sharif to Zardari again on Monday was that his party would not sponsor or be part of any conspiracy against the government but would expect it to honour the electoral mandate of others as well.
He said the PML-N would not allow the despicable politics of eighties and nineties’ come back and rock the political scene again. He said his party has clearly defined its role during the tenure of the present government, which could undergo a fundamental change if its chief demands were met.