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Nawaz Sharif’s bitter speech

Salman Rasheed

The writer is a Karachi-based research analyst and political consultant.

Former Prime Minister of Pakistan Nawaz Sharif’s speech at the All Parties Conference (APC) or should I say Association of Pakistan’s Corrupt held this past Sunday might have sounded defiant and revolutionary by his party and cheerleaders in the media but it sadly showed a bitter person who can’t handle being out of power and spewing partial truths.
First, it was a relief to see that the former PM was healthy and articulate while delivering his speech and that the whole nation saw it on TV.  However, I wonder where are all those in the media and PMLN who claimed that Nawaz was near death if he didn’t get medical treatment abroad?  We must thank the Almighty (SWT) for miracles.
I believe Nawaz Sharif had to bite his tongue several times while complimenting PPP co-chairperson Bilawal Zardari, thanking him for the invitation to address the APC, and addressing him as ‘Mr Chairman’. We all know the bitter rivalry between them, as PPP is that party the former PM used to claim was corrupt, tried to unseat him and battled them in courts.
Nawaz claims that conspiracies occur to unseat elected Prime Ministers of Pakistan. However, I may remind him that he played a major role conspiring with the establishment in the past to topple governments especially twice against Benazir Bhutto in 1990 and 1996.
Nawaz’s complaint about the establishment of becoming a ‘state above the state’ is music to the ears of India and other enemies of Pakistan.
It was General Zia and General Jilani that brought Nawaz into power politics when he couldn’t win a councilor seat in Lahore on his own.  I guess ‘state above state’ was fine for him when his political father General Zia-ul-Haq was ruling the roost and subsequent Chiefs of Army Staff helped him gain power in 1990, 1997, and 2013.  Talk about biting the hand that feeds you. 
On the issue of election rigging, PML-N formed the governments in Punjab and at the Centre numerous times. Did Nawaz also use rigging to win elections? This appears to be the case with the IJI alliance formed by the ISI during the 1988 elections to stem PPP gains and in the 1990 election as evident in the findings of the Asghar Khan case. 
The former PM laments that the same judiciary that punishes politicians doesn’t punish former COAS General Pervez Musharraf. It was the judiciary that asked the PML-N government regarding Musharraf’s case, as they had the power to place him on ECL and begin prosecution. However, Nawaz decided to remove Musharraf from the ECL and let him flee the country; so he is equally guilty for letting Musharraf go.
Nawaz complains that the judiciary or NAB is not taking notice of the Asim Saleem Bajwa controversy. But I remind him that when Panama Papers were disclosed, no institution in Pakistan initially took notice either even though his family was involved.  At that time, Imran Khan had to initiate a protest movement that eventually led to the Supreme Court of Pakistan hear PTI’s petition against him.
Since Nawaz Sharif is in opposition, why doesn’t he direct Shahbaz or Maryam to file a petition against Asim Saleem Bajwa in the courts like Imran Khan. If Nawaz believes he committed corruption, he did so under his government. Why didn’t he act at that time?
While blasting the current government on the foreign affairs front, Nawaz is correct in saying foreign affairs is not a child’s play.  He should be asked why he didn’t appoint a full-time foreign minister in his last stint as PM and decided to keep this ministry himself to the detriment of Pakistan.  Also, why did he hardly mention the Kashmir issue in his addresses in the UN General Assembly or other platforms?  Our security forces captured a serving Indian Navy Officer Khulbushan Jadav back in 2016 who masterminded terrorist operations on Pakistani soil, but Nawaz Sharif never bothered to mention his name in public. 
The former PM demands the public release of the Hamood-ur-Rehman Commission report on the fall of East Pakistan in 1971. Nawaz was PM three times and had the power to release it but didn’t. In opposition, he appears that he is using this report as a blackmailing tactic. As PM, he also didn’t make public the Abbottabad Commission report on Osama Bin Laden even though he promised to do so.
PM Imran Khan played a masterstroke for allowing Nawaz’s speech to be broadcast live to show the entire nation how much of a bitter and delusional person he is.  Broadcasting his speech on live TV rebukes mainstream media narrative about restrictions on freedom of expression and media. A fugitive and convict’s speech was shown who lashed out at the people of Pakistan and national institutions. How much freedom do you want? Politically, Nawaz shot himself in the foot in the speech.
How can the UK government allow a foreign convict and fugitive who’s in their country for medical treatment approved by our judiciary to give a speech on their soil against his home country?  I believe Nawaz should be extradited immediately or apply for political asylum and live the remainder of his life as another Altaf Hussain.
Nawaz’s speech has jeopardised the politics of his brother Shehbaz but pleased Fazl-ur-Rehman who wants chaos and anarchy in Pakistan, and sent a message to the international establishment he would be willing to recognize Israel.  If he wanted to make such a speech, it would have been nice to hear some remorse and admission of guilt for his role in damaging Pakistan’s institutions and democracy then his content would have been more palatable.
During the APC or Association of Pakistan’s Corrupt, did they discuss issues of the public such as poverty, inflation, or unemployment? Did they mention Indian tyranny in Indian-occupied Kashmir? Sadly, they attacked the state institutions of Pakistan to the joy of India.
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