The Congress on Saturday taunted Prime Minister Narendra Modi over his “friendship” with former Pakistan prime minister Nawaz Sharif, who has been convicted in a corruption case along with his daughter Maryam.
“Nawaz Sharif has been arrested on corruption charges. We’d like to know what his dear friend, PM Modi, has to say about this,” the Congress tweeted along with a photograph of the two holding hands during the Indian prime minister’s visit to Pakistan in December 2015.
Modi had landed in Lahore on the way from Afghanistan to greet Sharif on his birthday and attend the engagement ceremony of the Pakistan premier’s granddaughter. That was his first visit to the neighbouring country.
The BJP, however, was quick to respond to the Congress’ jibe. “The people of this country are saying this to our Prime Minister: All the politicians who are roaming around India on bail will one day have to go to jail,” it tweeted in an apparent reference to the anticipatory bail granted to Congress MP Shashi Tharoor in the Sunanda Pushkar case.
Modi himself had compared the Congress to a ‘bail gaadi’, punning on the Hindi term for bullock cart, to target the opposition party at a rally held in Rajasthan last Saturday. “Some people are calling Congress ‘bail gaadi,’ not bullock cart, because some of its top leaders and former ministers are out on bail,” he had said.
Incidentally, the Congress’ jibe comes on the back of a similar remark by Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf chief Imran Khan – wherein he accused Modi and Sharif of disrupting law and order in the country and creating tensions at the border in order to ensure a favourable environment for the Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz). “Beginning to wonder why whenever Nawaz Sharif is in trouble, there is increased tension along Pakistan’s borders and a rise in terrorist acts? Is it mere coincidence?” he tweeted.
Sharif (68) and Maryam (44) were convicted by an accountability court in what has come to be known as the Avenfield Apartments case and sentenced to jail terms of 10 and seven years respectively. While Sharif was found guilty of owning assets beyond his known sources of income, Maryam was convicted of aiding and abetting her father in covering up a “conspiracy”.
The Sharif family is now facing two more corruption cases in the accountability court — Al-Azizia Steel Mills and Flagship Investments — in which they are accused of money laundering, tax evasion and hiding offshore assets.
(With agency inputs)