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Pakistan

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Exclusive: Nawaz Sharif says ‘blind revenge’ behind his conviction

LONDON/ABU DHABI: Former Prime Minister and leader of Pakistan Muslim League (N) Nawaz Sharif has said that “draconian crackdown” on his supporters by the Punjab government shows that the authorities are scared of his appeal and are desperate to stop tens of thousands of people from reaching Lahore airport to welcome him and his daughter Maryam Nawaz Sharif.

Nawaz Sharif spoke to The News from the Harley Street Clinic prior to his departure for Heathrow airport to take flight to Abu Dhabi en route to Pakistan.

He said that he was aware that hundreds of his supporters have been picked up from across Punjab and more raids were being planned. “I am aware that main roads have been closed leading to Lahore, motorway has been closed and all modes of transport have been shut down to stop my supporters from reaching Lahore. This is the worst kind of crackdown on democracy and rule of law in Pakistan,” he said.

Nawaz Sharif said that the massive crackdown showed that his enemies were clearly perturbed and were aware that tens of thousands could turn out in his support as he returns to go to jail after being convicted. Nawaz Sharif said the fact that the Punjab government resorted to using violence on his supporters showed that his narrative had become more popular than before and propaganda against him had failed to dent.

“My supporters trust me and know that I have been acquitted of all corruption charges. I have been given clean chit by the NAB court and I am honoured. My conviction is political and it’s based on presumptions and assumptions. Its just to fix me to fix 2018 elections and the outcome of these elections,” he said.

When asked if he was prepared for the difficulties one could face in prison, Nawaz Sharif said that he was not going to prison for the first time. “I was imprisoned at Attock Fort during Musharraf's reign. The incarceration during which I could not even see outside of the window of my cell after it was covered with black paper. I was subjected to torture and humiliation for several months.

“After October 12, 1999, I have served a prison term spanning over several months during which I was not even sure of the place where I was kept at, not sure whether it was day or night. This was a time when there was no case registered against me, neither was I sentenced.”

He added: “Back then, my crime was to dismiss Pervez Musharraf, who had put the national security on stake through an adventure, from his post. In return, he not only took over the power but handcuffed and put the elected prime minister in a prison cell.

“This is the history of this country and the most tragic part of it was that the judiciary, like always, accepted that abrogation of the Constitution. A large number of judges had pledged allegiance to Musharraf, turning away from their constitutional oath. No on asked where the prime minister of the country was.”

Nawaz Sharif said that today’s situation is not different from that of Musharraf era.

“Today, apparently, there is democracy in the state, but the situation is not different. I know what difficulties would be there in prison. I don't know how long will I be there in this era of cruelty and injustice, but my mission is to rid my nation of this 70-year imprisonment, which is why I am returning to country regardless of the consequences.”

Nawaz Sharif said that his conviction bas been secured through “a game of blind revenge”.

“This was neither a case, nor there is a verdict. This is a game of blind revenge, which is continuing. There is no case against me, there never was. The whole Panama case was started to fix politics and to take me out because I wanted a stronger democracy.”

Nawaz Sharif said he was honoured that all allegations of corruption against him have been proven wrong and thrown out by the court.

“Lofty claims were made about corruption a year ago as well and when nothing could be found then I was ousted from the PM House for not receiving an imaginary salary from my son; disqualified for life. The Parliament of Pakistan passed a law that a disqualified member could stay as a member or president of a party but this law was overturned only in my enmity.

“The Senate candidates, whom I had issued tickets, were deprived of Lion symbol and declared independents. I do not know why they were not allotted Jeep symbol at that time. Only you can explain this. This was something which never happened in our history. Then these references were prepared on the orders of the Supreme Court.

“Now, not only in Pakistan, but in the outside world as well the decision is being declared extremely weak and shallow. Even according to the verdict, no allegation of corruption or misuse of authority was proven against me. I was absolved of this charge,” said the former prime minister.

Nawaz Sharif said that the NAB court verdict confirmed that the prosecution failed to establish his link with the Avenfield apartments.

“This was not finally established from the verdict as to who owns Avenfield flats. According to the judge, grandfather cannot give anything to his grandsons and they are after all dependent on their parents, which is why it was assumed that these flats are owned by me. Can anyone sane admit accept this kind of argument and reasoning? We are going into appeal and if there is even a fraction of law and justice left in this country, then this verdict will be nullified on the first hearing,” said Nawaz Sharif.

He said that his daughter Maryam Nawaz has also been convicted and disqualified despite the fact that there was no case of disqualification against her before the court.

“Here verdicts are not announced on the basis of an FIR or a case. Even this is not considered as to what has the petitioner moved the court for. Decisions are made on the basis of revenge and rivalry or under pressure.”

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