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November 25, 2007

Nawaz Sharif, a profile


November 25, 2007


FORMER Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and ex-Chief Minister Punjab Shahbaz Sharif, along with their families, will land in Pakistan on Sunday (today) after seven years of forced exile by President General Pervez Musharraf.

The Sharif family was forcibly exiled to Saudi Arabia on December 20, 2000 following the request of Royal Family of Saudi Arabia. Nawaz is the eldest son of late Muhammad Sharif and was born in Lahore on December 25, 1949. An industrialist turned politicians, who is also one of the directors of Ittefaq Group of Industries, has been studying in Saint Anthony’s High School. He is graduated from Government College Lahore and obtained LLB Degree from University of the Punjab. He jumped into politics in 80s by joining Punjab Provincial Council as member. Later, he joined the Punjab Cabinet as Finance Minister in 1981 during late General Zia-ul-Haq’s regime. He also held the portfolio of Sports.

After general elections of 1985, Nawaz Sharif took oath as Chief Minister of Punjab on April 9, 1985. General Zia-ul-Haq dissolved the assemblies in 1988, and he was appointed as caretaker CM On May 31, 1988. He was again elected as Chief Minister after the 1988 general elections.

During the general election of 1990, Nawaz Sharif contested the election from the platform of electoral alliance Islami Jamhoori Itehad (IJI). The alliance bagged majority seats and, on November 6, 1990, he was sworn-in as Prime Minister. However, after having differences with President Ghulam Ishaq Khan, the latter dissolved the assemblies in April 1993. He was reinstated by the superior Judiciary but had to resign along with the President in July 1993.

During his first tenure as Prime Minister, projects like Ghazi Brotha and Gawadar Miniport were initiated. He allotted the land to landless peasants in Sindh. Pakistan relations with Central Asian Muslim Republics were strengthened and E. C. O. was given a boost. Various fighting groups

signed Islamabad Accord to end the Afghan crisis. He did not bow down before the American sanctions on Pakistan through Pressler Amendment and gave boost to the national economy.

His party was defeated by the PPP in the General Elections 1993. However, Nawaz was appointed as leader of the opposition in the national assembly from 1993 to 1997.

The PML again won the elections held in February 1997 with overwhelming majority and Nawaz Sharif was re-elected as Prime Minister for second time. Taking advantage of his absolute majority, he managed to repeal the controversial Eighth Amendment. He added another milestone to the Constitution when his Parliament adopted the anti-defection Fourteenth Amendment Bill. Similarly, mega project of Motorway is another feather in his cap.

He was not at good relations with the then CJ and President Farooq Leghari during his second tenure. His differences with the judiciary and presidency culminated in the removal of the Supreme Court Chief Justice Sajjad Ali Shah while President Farooq Leghari resigned on December 2, 1997.

In 1998, the world powers exerted pressure on him for not exploding nuclear bomb. But he refused the pressure and conducted the nuclear test on May 28, 1998. Pakistan became a nuclear power by successfully carrying out five nuclear tests at Chaghi area of Baluchistan. It was in direct response to five nuclear explosions by India, just two weeks earlier.

However, later, Nawaz Sharif attempted to normalize relations between India and Pakistan. He took an initiative in February 1999 and Indian Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee visited Lahore via bus through Wagah border in 1999 and the two leaders signed historical Lahore Declaration.

In May 1999, relations between Pakistan and India once again became bitter because of Kargil War. The latest conflict between the two nuclear powers posed a threat to the South Asia region.

However, after the intervention of international community, particularly US President Bill Clinton, talks resumed between India and Pakistan. The US President persuaded Pakistan to use its influence on the freedom fighters to avert a full-scale war with India. The freedom fighters vacated the captured territory by August, 1999.

General Musharraf overthrew Nawaz Sharif’s government through a military coup on October 12, 1999. Nawaz Sharif was trailed on the charges of Kargil Operation, corruption and the plane conspiracy cases. He was found guilty in the “Plane Conspiracy” case. However, on the request of Saudi Royal Family, the Government of Pakistan exiled him to Saudi Arabia on December 20, 2000. He moved to UK in 2006 from where he attempted to come back to Pakistan on September 10 but was again deported to Saudi Arabia on the same day.

Shehbaz Sharif, younger brother of Nawaz Sharif, was born in 1950 in Lahore. He joined the politics in 1990 and was elected as MNA. He also was elected as opposition leader in 1993 in the Punjab Assembly when Manzoor Wattoo was Chief Minister of Punjab. Because of his illness, he remained abroad for some years and, in his absence, Ch. Pervaiz Elahi was appointed as acting opposition leader.

Shehbaz was elected as MPA during general election 1997 and sworn in as Chief Minister of Punjab on February 20, 1997. He was ousted from power after General Musharraf’s military coup on October 12, 1999.

Being Chief Executive of Punjab Province, he was known for his good governance. During his tenure, he focused on health, education, agriculture and industrial sectors. He launched a successful operation against ghost schools by involving army. He also took action against booti-mafia across the province. Entry Test System and Self Finance System in medical colleges were introduced during his regime.

He never compromised on quality work in development sector. Jail Road Lahore, underpasses at the Canal Road, Ferozepur Road from Ichra Bridge to Chungi Amarsadhu, Main Boulevard Gulberg and Cavalry Ground Overhead Bridge are few examples of his commitment.

In order to maintain law and order in the province, Shehbaz eliminated hardened criminals and activists of militant organizations involved in sectarianism through police encounters. In a similar police encounter, he was charged with killing of five people and the case is pending in an Anti Terrorist Court.

He was elected as President Pakistan Muslim League (N) on August 3, 2002 and reelected as party president on August 2, 2006 for another term.

A few years of his exile to Saudi Arabia in 2002, he moved to America for medical treatment. Later, he did not return to Saudi Arabia and stayed in London. He attempted to come back to Pakistan on May 11, 2004, however, he was deported again to Saudi Arabia.

Now both Nawaz Sharif and Shahbaz Sharif once again are arriving Pakistan on November 25 (today). Several cases are still pending against them in local courts.

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