Monday July 22, 2024

Eight former Pakistani PMs, two presidents arrested or convicted so far

By Faizan Bangash
August 07, 2023

LAHORE: During last 65 years, eight former prime ministers and two ex-presidents of Pakistan have so far been either arrested, convicted or faced arrest warrants in different cases mostly made by the then sitting governments.

The most recent such example is the PTI Chairman and former prime minister between 2019-2022, who was arrested after a court awarded three years sentence to him in a case related to Toshakhana.

Before him, the former prime ministers of the country including Huseyn Shaheed Suhrawardy, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, Benazir Bhutto, Nawaz Sharif, Syed Yusuf Raza Gilani, Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, Shehbaz Sharif and Raja Pervaiz Ashraf were either arrested, convicted or faced arrest warrants. Every time, the political parties, supporters of these politicians have termed their arrests a part of victimisation by the then sitting government.

The first former PM of Pakistan who got arrested was Huseyn Shaheed Suhrawardy who was taken into custody after the then President Gen Ayub Khan implemented Election Bodies Disqualification Orders (EBDO). Under this orders, a number of leaders from East Pakistan were arrested and Suhrawardy was one of them.

Second to face arrest was the PPP founder and first elected Prime Minister of Pakistan Zulfikar Ali Bhutto. On July 5, the then Army Chief Gen Zia ul Haq dethroned Bhutto and imposed martial law in the country. Bhutto was tried in the case related to Nawab Muhammad Ahmad Khan and was finally executed on April 4, 1979. The decade of 90s later saw high bitterness between two top political leaders of Pakistan including PPP Chairperson Benazir Bhutto and PMLN head Nawaz Sharif, both of whom served as PM while Ishaq Khan was President who dismissed both the governments while exercising 58-2b.

Benazir Bhutto faced brief arrest during the 1992 long march while she was leading Opposition towards Islamabad against the government led by Nawaz Sharif.

However, real test came for her after he second tenure as PM between 1993-1996. When her government was dismissed by President Sardar Farooq Ahmed Khan Leghari in September 1996 through 58-2(b), the next government that come to power was led by Nawaz Sharif who got elected as PM again. Under his government, a process of strict accountability started and first Asif Ali Zardari, the husband of Benazir Bhutto and the sitting Senator was arrested.

Later, warrants were issued for the arrest of Benazir Bhutto who was often see appearing before courts with her children. She left Pakistan later and in October 1999, Nawaz Sharif, the sitting Prime Minister himself got arrested by the then Army Chief Gen Pervez Musharraf who first became the Chief Executive of the country and later became the President.

Nawaz Sharif had to spent around 7 months in imprisonment after which, through a deal he along with his family left Pakistan and settled in Jeddah. He returned in November 2007 while Musharraf had doffed uniform.

In the Musharraf era, former Speaker of National Assembly Syed Yusuf Raza Gilani was also arrested and spent around 5 years in imprisonment. Yusuf Raza Gilani became the PM of the country in 2008 and in 2013, he was disqualified for five years and also awarded a penalty for a few minutes that meant conviction. So, being a former PM, he also joined the list of convicted premiers.

In 2013, the sitting Prime Minister Raja Pervaiz Ashraf also faced arrest warrants over a corruption case, however, his arrest was not done. Later, in 2017, Nawaz Sharif, who became Prime Minister for the third time in the history of the country was convicted by court and lost office. He faced arrest till 2019 after which through a guarantee, he was allowed to travel to London.

Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, who became PM in 2017 was arrested by NAB in PTI era and remained in custody for more than a year.

Asif Ali Zardari, the President of Pakistan between 2008 to 2013 was also arrested by NAB during PTI tenure. His father in law, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto also served as President between 1971 to 1973. In this way, Bhutto was the first former president who got arrested and Asif Zardari was the second former president to face arrest. Now, the PTI Chairman who served as PM for three years is also facing imprisonment.