Ousted prime minister Nawaz Sharif, who was disqualified by the Supreme Court in Panama Papers case, said on Saturday that he has a lot to say but opted to remain silent for now and not forever.
“I neither lost my nerve nor disrespect anyone, I am staying calm. I have come to understand a lot and have a lot to say [with regard to court verdict], but for now I will remain silent, but, I won’t stay silent forever,” Sharif said in an informal chat with a group of journalists at Punjab House after his arrival from Murree.
Referring to the grounds on Supreme Court disqualified him in its July 28 verdict as prime minister, Sharif posed a question how he could have filed tax returns on the salary he never received from the company owned by his son. “How could I declare a salary I never received from my son’s company?” he further asked.
The former premier said that he acted upon the apex court judgment and quit his office without making any comment on the verdict, adding he believes in rule of law. “You’re all aware of whatever happened with me. Had there been any evidence of corruption, kickbacks or misuse of public money, there would have been logic,” he maintained, adding he had not done anything which obstructed the country’s progress.
He further insisted that even no evidence of corruption could be found against him despite the investigation of the record of the company owned by his father. Referring to the NAB references, Sharif claimed that he has never committed any corruption so filing of any reference against him in accountability court is out of question.
At present, he said that Pakistan is on its way to prosperity and will continue to grow. However, he cautioned of a “state of anarchy” in the country if it did not continue to be on its right track – democracy. For this, he stated that there is need for a political consensus and unity amongst political parties. Sharif said that his party accepted the PPP’s mandate in Sindh after the 2013 elections, adding he never adopted an offensive stance even during anti-government protests and sit-ins by the opponents. “I am not politically isolated,” he insisted.
Referring to the recent interview by former president General Pervez Musharraf (retd), he said that a dictator of the past while sitting abroad said that “dictatorship is better than democracy.” “I don’t know which world he is living in,” he said, adding, “He [Musharraf] has no courage to come back and speak in public.”
He also asked whether the courts could ever hold a dictator accountable for his actions, adding no one has so far been held responsible for the assassination of Nawab Akbar Khan Bugti, a Baloch leader. “Is there any court in the country that can convict a person who twice violated the Constitution?” Sharif questioned.
Sharif also claimed that Musharraf wanted to meet him in 2007 when he was returning to the country. “Musharraf wanted to sign NRO [national reconciliation ordinance] with me,” he claimed. He also maintained that Musharraf wanted to meet him but he rejected the offer “as I had become an ideological man. Instead, I signed the Charter of Democracy (CoD) with late Benazir Bhutto.”
He further said that his expulsion from the country after the 1999 military coup was a trial for him, adding it had also taught him a lot. “It’s important to learn from one’s mistakes, but it seems that the country has learnt nothing from the 1971 debacle,” he added. Earlier, Nawaz Sharif was given a warm welcome by his supporters upon reaching Islamabad where he is staying at Punjab House along with his family members.
Leaders of the coalition partners including JUI-F chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman, Pakhtunkhwa Milli Awami Party (PMAP) chief Mehmood Khan Achakzai and PML-N leaders including Chaudhary Nisar Ali Khan, Raja Zafar-ul-Haq and others also met the former premier and discussed the prevailing political situation of the country. According to a PML-N spokesperson, Nawaz Sharif will leave for Lahore on Wednesday via GT Road where he would be received by party workers at different points before reaching his Raiwind residence in Lahore.