ISLAMABAD: Speaking to the media in Islamabad, Maryam Nawaz responded to Prime Minister Imran Khan’s HBO interview and stated that, “He [the prime minister] is not [an elected] representative of the people of Pakistan. He has been selected and has no right to comment on Pakistan’s nuclear status.” Maryam went on to say that the premier was not the custodian of the country’s nuclear programme, rather Pakistan’s population of 22 billion was its custodian, for which the people and the leaders had made sacrifices. In this connection, she gave the examples of “former prime minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto embracing martyrdom and PML-N supremo Nawaz Sharif being exiled.” “You [the prime minister] should not even talk about Kashmir, on which you have made a deal,” she said, adding that if the premier believed he could start a new debate by making such remarks, he was wrong. Maryam said Pakistan’s nuclear programme guaranteed its security and had it not existed, the country would have been facing big issues other than just Kashmir today. “You, a selected prime minister, have no right to make such a statement [about the nuclear programme],” she said. She further commented on how Imran Khan made big claims before his selection as the premier, saying that it is ironic how the third budget in his regime is being presented by the fourth finance minister. “Where did all your plans go?”, she asked. She questioned that the prime minister used to say that merely building motorways is not a sign of progress and growth, so why are the same motorways now being pledged? “The nation wants to know the answers,” she added. “It is Nawaz Sharif’s efforts that he planned all the motorways and other infrastructure projects which are now being pledged to foreign agencies. It is an example in itself of his efforts.” “From the bread of the poor to their peace, you’re incompetence has not let anything sustain,” she exclaimed. A day earlier, the PML-N had reacted to the premier’s remarks during a National Assembly session and alleged that the PM was brought to power to fulfill the “foreign agenda” of rolling back Pakistan’s nuclear programme. “Who has given the right to this prime minister to say that Pakistan’s nuclear programme is negotiable?” questioned Ahsan Iqbal, the party’s secretary-general. “The cat is now out of the bag. Imran Khan has been brought (to power) to roll back Pakistan’s nuclear programme. This is the agenda of the foreign donors.” She also asked the prime minister to give explanations about the disbursements of the loans taken worth billions of rupees. Upon being asked who would lead the PML-N in the upcoming elections, she responded that Nawaz Sharif would do so and said that she would call him to Pakistan today if his life was not threatened at the hands of the government. Asked about her opinion on the premier’s comments on rape in HBO interview, Maryam said his views were reflective of a “criminal mindset”. Commenting on it on Wednesday, Maryam said the premier’s remarks had exposed his mindset. “[He is] a person who validates rape and holds the victim responsible. Pakistan needs to be rid of this mindset of rape apologists,” she said. The PML-N leader went on to question whether Zainab’s rape and the motorway incident were a consequence of what the victims were wearing. “He [the prime minister] should be ashamed,” she said, condemning his remarks. Maryam added that through his remarks in the interview, the premiere had “insulted rape victims”. Nawaz and Maryam’s appeal, decision on important point reserved During the hearing on the appeals of Nawaz Sharif and Maryam Nawaz, the Islamabad High Court on the important legal point that in the absence of Nawaz Sharif, what will be the future of the appeals? During the hearing, Judicial Assistant to the Prime Minister Nazir Tarar argued that the appeal was a continuation of the trial and that a trial cannot proceed in absentia as an appeal cannot be heard. On the occasion, Additional Prosecutor General NAB Jahanzeb Bharwana started giving arguments and referred to the court decisions. He said that the judicial precedents presented were related to the trial in his absence. Justice Amir Farooq said that there are lawyers in the appeals of the co-accused who will give arguments in the case. They only have to give arguments to the extent of their clients. Nawaz Sharif has two appeals, one of which has co-accused. Jahanzeb Bharwana requested that both the appeals of Nawaz Sharif’s Avonfield and Azizia reference be dismissed.