Islamabad: Former Pakistani prime minister and Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) chief Nawaz Sharif has launched a scathing attack on the military establishment, alleging that they were behind his ouster from power in 2017 through intimidation and manipulation of the judiciary.
In a televised address to the nation on Thursday, Sharif claimed that the military establishment had visited the homes of senior judges and threatened them to deliver verdicts against him in the corruption cases that he faced. He said that these cases were fabricated and baseless and that he was vindicated by the recent acquittals in the Al-Azizia Steel mill and Avenfield graft cases.
Sharif, who is the only Pakistani politician to have served as the prime minister for three non-consecutive terms, said that he was happy to see justice being done in his favor and thanked the people for their support. He also expressed hope that he would be able to contest elections and hold public office again, as legal experts have suggested.
Sharif further alleged that there was a planned conspiracy to remove him from power in 2017, which involved former cricketer and current prime minister Imran Khan, who had staged a prolonged sit-in protest in Islamabad in 2014. He said that the conspiracy was aimed at bringing Imran Khan to power, whom he accused of being a puppet of the military establishment.
Sharif urged the people to act as a court and a judge in the next general elections, which are scheduled for February 8, 2024, and to vote for a prosperous and democratic Pakistan. He also lamented that he was compared to the Sicilian mafia and the Godfather by the Supreme Court bench that heard his cases and that his removal from power had led to economic hardship and inflation for the people of Pakistan.
Sharif, who had led the country’s most influential political dynasty and the ruling PML-N party for over three decades, faced a major setback in his career when he was disqualified by the Supreme Court in the Panama Papers case in July 2017. He was accused of having undeclared assets and income abroad, and of not being honest and trustworthy.
On Wednesday, while addressing his party leaders in Lahore, Sharif blamed the Supreme Court bench that disqualified him for not receiving salary from his son, and two former army chiefs, retired Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa and Raheel Sharif, for being part of the conspiracy to topple his government in 2017.
He said that the anti-corruption watchdog, the National Accountability Bureau (NAB), was not acting independently, but was under the supervision of a monitoring judge of the apex court, who was appointed to ensure his conviction. He said that he wanted to know who was behind the conspiracy against him and the people of Pakistan, and that he was not seeking revenge, but justice.
Sharif, who is known as the ‘Lion of Punjab’, had been the prime minister of Pakistan three times, but each time he had to resign or was ousted before completing his term. He had faced a military coup in 1999, a judicial coup in 2017, and a self-imposed exile in 2018. He returned to Pakistan in October 2021, after spending four years in the UK for medical treatment.