ISLAMABAD - Former president Asif Ali Zardari Thursday urged Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to quit as he rejected the Supreme Court’s split verdict in the Panama leaks scandal.

Addressing a news conference here along with his son Bilawal Bhutto Zardari and others, Asif Zardari, Pakistan People’s Party Co-Chairman, said Nawaz Sharif had no moral right to rule the country after two of the five Supreme Court judges recommended his disqualification.

“On moral grounds Nawaz Sharif should resign but as we know him, he will not do so until his last breath,” he said.

He said Nawaz Sharif would have been long disqualified if Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf Chief Imran Khan had opted to join hands with the PPP against the government.

“Imran Khan preferred to go solo. If he was with us, we could have legislated first and then gone for the kill. He is inexperienced and has never been in the jails and courts. He went unprepared and in the process gave a new lease of life to the PM. He in fact helped Nawaz Sharif,” the PPP leader said.

Zardari said there would have been a difference if Aitzaz Ahsan was given a chance to make arguments in the Supreme Court. “With all respect for their lawyer (Naeem Bokhari), I would ask how many such cases he has to his credit,” he quipped.

The PPP leader said the verdict was a joke with the people, as a JIT – comprising government officials, was least expected to do what the Supreme Court could not do.

“Officers of grade 19 cannot be expected to hold a PM responsible. Firstly, will they interrogate him at the PM’s office or their own offices. This is a joke,” he remarked.

Zardari said the court, may have given time to Nawaz Sharif, but it had proved beyond any doubt that he was not a ‘sharif (gentleman).’ “They have never been held accountable though,” he pointed out.

The former President saluted Justice Asif Saeed Khosa and Justice Gulzar Ahmed who recommended disqualification of the Prime Minister. In their dissenting note, the two judges wrote that the PM was no longer a righteous person thus he should not hold the top office of the country.

Zardari ridiculed those who were distributing sweets and celebrating. “What are they celebrating. Are they celebrating for deceiving the people for nine months. They should be ashamed,” he asserted.

The PPP leader said even a common man knew that Nawaz Sharif was a ‘thief.’ “If you ask a vendor, he will tell you ‘there is a hue and cry in every street that Nawaz Sharif is a thief.’ There is no secret,” he added.

Asked if the PPP needed the PTI to take on the government, Zardari said: “They need us. I never said we need them.”

Speaking alongside Zardari, Leader of the Opposition in the Senate Aitzaz Ahsan said that the Supreme Court’s verdict was ‘weak.’

“They have given safe passage to the Prime Minister. They have always been soft on them (the Sharif family). Nawaz Sharif’s government was reinstated when it was dismissed on the charges of corruption but our (Benazir Bhutto-led government) was not restored despite identical allegations in the 1990s,” he recalled.

He added no progress was made in Model Town case while the order in Asghar Khan case was never implemented.

“The actual verdict is the words of the two judges. The rest of the three judges have disappointed the nation. Those who had taken part in the historic lawyers’ movement for the independence of judiciary are disappointed,” he said.

Ahsan said there will be no use of forming a JIT with PM Sharif in power. “The JIT will be meaningless. Nawaz Sharif should quit,” he said.

He said that three judges – who ordered constitution of a JIT – had also not given a clean chit to the premier.

“They might have invoked the doctrine of necessity (by not disqualifying Nawaz Sharif) but they did mention it all in the verdict.