Islamabad, Pakistan – Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan has accused political rival and former three-times premier Nawaz Sharif of “taking part in India’s sport” by criticising the nation’s highly effective navy, as a bitter political feud deepens within the South Asian nation.
Khan, chief of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) get together that got here into energy in 2018, was talking throughout an interview broadcast late on Thursday.
“Now he [Sharif] has gone [to the United Kingdom] and is taking part in India’s sport. He’s attacking Pakistan sitting over there. He’s 100% getting backing [from India], he’s a coward and with out that, he couldn’t be doing something,” mentioned Khan.
The prime minister was responding to renewed assaults on the federal government in current weeks by Sharif, whose Pakistani Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) get together has joined an opposition alliance in a bid to topple Khan’s authorities.
Sharif has been residing within the UK since final November, when he left Pakistan on medical bail to obtain remedy for a blood platelet subject that medical doctors mentioned threatened his life. He was convicted and imprisoned on corruption fees in 2018, however was granted bail throughout his attraction.
Earlier on Thursday, Sharif addressed get together leaders at a high-level assembly by means of a video hyperlink, accusing the federal government of utilizing “twin requirements of accountability” in its anti-corruption drive.
On Monday, anti-corruption officers arrested Shehbaz Sharif, Nawaz’s youthful brother and PML-N president, after his petition for an extension of bail in a corruption case was rejected.
Khan has made the anti-corruption drive a centrepiece of his rule, along with his authorities pursuing instances towards the Sharifs, former President Asif Ali Zardari, Jamiat Ulema-e Islam (Fazl faction) chief Fazal-ur Rehman and different leaders.
A number of key opposition figures, together with Shehbaz Sharif’s son, are behind bars, whereas others are out on bail as they combat the fees in court docket.
Critics say the accountability drive has been one-sided, disproportionately concentrating on Khan’s political opponents, whereas leaving members of his PTI or its allies largely untouched.
“The [anti-corruption watchdog] appears reluctant in continuing towards individuals on one facet of the political divide […] whereas these on the opposite facet are being arrested and incarcerated for months and years with out offering any enough trigger,” learn a Supreme Court docket verdict in a corruption case in July.
‘Will we disparage military without end?’
Final month, the nation’s important opposition events, together with Sharif’s PML-N, the Pakistan Individuals’s Get together (PPP), JUI-F and a number of other different smaller teams launched the Pakistan Democratic Motion (PDM) alliance, taking purpose on the nation’s navy for its alleged interference in governance.
Pakistan’s navy, at present led by military chief Common Qamar Javed Bajwa, has dominated Pakistan for roughly half of its 73-year historical past, and retains management over giant features of the nation’s international and safety insurance policies.
Beneath Khan, the military has taken an rising position in governance, working with the federal government on financial affairs, the response to the COVID-19 disaster and taking a number one position in managing the $60bn China-Pakistan Financial Hall (CPEC) mission.
Khan’s rivals allege he was backed by the navy within the 2018 normal election, and that the anti-corruption drive has been used to sideline his rivals, a cost he denies.
Within the interview on Thursday, Khan equated the navy’s frequent takeovers of the nation to the “errors” of some people.
“If previously, a military chief made a mistake, then will we at all times disparage the military without end?” he requested. “[The] previous is there solely to be taught from. What have we discovered? We have now discovered that the navy’s job is to not run the federal government.”
Nawaz Sharif was pressured by the Supreme Court docket to step down as prime minister over corruption allegations in 2017, and was convicted and sentenced to a jail time period a yr later, simply days forward of the overall election.
In a speech earlier this week, Sharif accused former Pakistani intelligence chief Zaheer-ul-Islam of threatening to overthrow his authorities in 2014, when Khan was main anti-government protests within the capital, Islamabad.
Additionally on Thursday, Pakistan’s media regulator, a government-run physique, issued orders banning the printed of speeches or statements by those that have been convicted of a criminal offense or are evading arrest – an additional tightening of press freedom underneath Khan.
Worldwide media rights group Reporters With out Borders charges Pakistan 145th out of 180 international locations in its World Press Freedom Index.
Asad Hashim is Al Jazeera’s digital correspondent in Pakistan. He tweets @AsadHashim.