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May 24, 2018

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‘Case against Musharraf is sole crime’

ISLAMABAD: PML-N supremo Nawaz Sharif on Wednesday said the sole purpose behind the references filed against him in the accountability court was to remove him from the Prime Minister’s House and stop the treason case against Pervez Musharraf.

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Nawaz said this as he completed his statement in the Avenfield reference, while his counsel Khawaja Haris Ahmad told the accountability court that they would not bring any witness in their defence as the prosecution had failed miserably to establish its case.

He said his client would also not appear before the court as witness and he had left up to the court by submitting his version to decide about the fate of the case.

Meanwhile, Maryam Nawaz and Capt (retd) Safdar would record their statements today (Thursday).

Nawaz, responding to a question why corruption references were filed against him, provided a lengthy six-page detailed explanation, saying the core reason was his refusal to surrender the powers of civilian government.

“All these false, baseless and shallow corruption cases were formed against me because I formed a treason case against former military dictator Gen (retd) Pervez Musharraf and did not succumb to any pressure. I said we need to put our own house in order first, I tried to shape the foreign policy in line with the national interest and I did this all as I believe this is what, as a prime minister, I should be doing under the constitutional mandate,” he said.

“Perhaps, an impression was being created that I am a hurdle or obstacle in certain issues and the only solution is to disqualify me for life, remove me from the party presidency and impose a ban on my politics,” Nawaz said.

“To teach me a lesson, the 2014 protest sit-ins were initiated to save Musharraf from the treason case. Whether you call me a hijacker, godfather, Sicilian mafia or a traitor, it does not affect me at all. I am a son of the soil and I love every speck of the dirt that belongs to this country. It is an insult to me to receive a certificate of patriotism from someone,” he added.

The former prime minister said, “Putting me out of the government may have satisfied the ego of a few people but what it gave to the system, democracy and Pakistan’s respect in the community of the world. What did the July 28, 2017 decision even give to the judicial system of this country?”

He said he constituted the treason case against Musharraf despite the fact that he received threatening messages. “Some people advised me not to take up this overloaded issue as Musharraf would not get any harm to the least but my government will be in deep trouble. Ignoring all these threats, I showed a resolve to try Musharraf in treason case,” Nawaz explained.

Saying that pressure was exerted on him in different ways, Nawaz said former president Asif Ali Zardari, who along with another leading political personality visited him, said the November 3, 2007 emergency should be given indemnity through parliament, but he [Nawaz] refused.

“I replied to him that for the last 65 years, we had been compromising on these issues on the same pretext, but this time we should hold him accountable, why he violated his oath of the office and why he used the power of armed forces for his personal rule,” said Nawaz.

“When I started with his trial, I came to know that it is not easy to hold a military dictator accountable and all legal procedures were made to penalise the politicians only,” Nawaz said.

Addressing the court, he said, “You may remember the day when he was to appear before the court and all of a sudden the whole motorcade was diverted to the Armed Forces Institute of Cardiology where he remained for more than a month avoiding court proceedings. In contrast, whatever treatment is meted to the politicians and still they are facing, you better know.”

He said, “When I did not succumb to the pressure, an offensive was launched against me in the shape of 2014 protest sit-ins. Credible reports say that the sole motives behind the 2014 protest sit-ins were those I stated earlier.

“Two months before the 2014 sit-ins, I met Imran Khan in Bani Gala and during that meeting he never discussed this issue of election rigging. As soon as a momentum was created for the treason case against Musharraf, Imran and Tahirul Qadri met in London to discuss and they started an offensive in the name of rigging. Two of them were demanding that I should resign from the office of the prime minister. These protests were completely supported by the ‘umpires’ about whom Imran Khan used to repeat everyday that the umpire’s finger is about to rise. Those who planned these protests thought that I would succumb to the pressure and agree to compromise. This was a well-thought out and very aggressive attack on the government,” Nawaz said.

The former prime had more to share, as he said, “The head of an intelligence agency conveyed a message to me that I should resign from the office and if it is not possible, I should go on a long leave. This message greatly hurt me.”

“Putting myself and my government as well in danger, I was insisting that the dictator should get the punishment for what he did. Dictatorships have given deep wounds to Pakistan. Few generals occupy the government and it affects the honour and respect of the whole institution,” he said.

About the armed forces and the country’s defence, Nawaz said, “I revere those brave sons who defend our frontiers and lay their lives and I always tried to improve the defence of Pakistan. During my tenure, a record increase was made in defence budget. In 1998, it didn’t take me even a few hours to decide that Pakistan will retaliate to the Indian nuclear explosions. Neglecting the world pressure and monetary benefits, I decided to conduct nuclear explosions.”

About Musharraf, the ousted premier said holding a person accountable for abrogating the Constitution and occupying the government, violating the oath of the office was not only imperative for the Constitution and democracy but also necessary for the respect of armed forces.

“When the army generals occupy the government, it hurts the standing of armed forces as well. It affects army’s professional expertise and negative emotions are generated in the public. Military takeover also affects the international reputation of armed forces,” Nawaz said. “These are the reasons that I thought it necessary to conduct the trial of Gen Pervez Musharraf.”

Addressing the court, Nawaz said, “The entire case is now open to you. Not even a single prosecution witness has brought even a minor proof against me. It may not be wrong if I say that the prosecution witnesses have endorsed my version.”

About the Panama Papers, Nawaz said it included thousands of persons from around the world. “They were leaders and politicians. I don’t know how many of them faced cases on the basis of their names in Panama Papers but in Pakistan, everything was being done against a person whose name was not mentioned anywhere in these papers and that is me Nawaz Sharif.”

The ousted prime minister said, “Nawaz Sharif is an unwanted person just because the people of Pakistan love him, vote for him and elect him as prime minister again and again. I was never allowed to complete my tenure in office. To make me learn a lesson, I was put into imprisonment, declared as a hijacker and sentenced for life imprisonment. I was handcuffed and tied to the seat in an airplane and I was tried to insult as much as possible.”

He questioned whether all that insult was hurled at him 19 years ago due to the Panama Papers or the London flats. “Panama Papers were non-existent then and now as well. Nineteen years ago, my crime was talking about the real democracy where people decide about their fate under the Constitution. Back then too, I was saying that public representatives should formulate the internal and foreign policies. Now I am repeating that once again that the people elected by the public should be empowered to take decisions,” said Nawaz.

He criticised the July 28, 2017 judgment and said it left a bad impact on Pakistan’s economy. He also mentioned his contribution in terms of economic well being of the country like CPEC, motorways and improvement in law and order.

Nawaz also repeated his 11 questions that he had raised at a lawyers’ convention in Lahore about the legality of the July 28 judgment.

Urging the court to answer these questions, he said, “The July 28, 2017 judgment is a precedent that is bad for judiciary, its honour and respect. The way judges attributed an imaginary salary as an asset has no example in the judicial history.”

Nawaz said, “It is the summary of my crimes. I wish that this court could call Nawabzada Liaquat Ali Khan to answer the question why he was murdered, why Zulfikar Ali Bhutto was hanged, why Benazir Bhutto was martyred and why no elected prime minister could ever complete his tenure. And I wish that this court could ever call a living or dead general to ask him a question what good quality they had to rule for 10 years each?”

The former prime minister added, “I wish this court could call the judges to answer a question why they had approved every unconstitutional government.”

Later in the day, the former prime minister, addressing a press conference, shared the details of his court statement with the media and said he decided to hold the presser to reveal facts the behind the NAB cases and the purpose of 2014 sit-ins.

He recalled that the PML-N as a democratic party took a categorical stance against the November 3, 2007 emergency imposed by Musharraf and refused to give indemnity to his second martial law when he played havoc with the Constitution yet again.

He made it clear that he did not require any certificate of patriotism from anyone. “Being a patriot, I feel it as my insult to seek certificate of loyalty to my country,” Nawaz added.

The former premier said, "When a minus-one formula is decided, then an excuse such as iqama is enough."

He recalled that it was Imran who continued claiming that the umpire’s finger was about to be raised. “Who was that umpire? He was the person who continued to back them for four months,” he said, adding that later announcements were made the prime minister would be dragged out of the PM House with a rope around his neck.

Nawaz said, "One or two generals decide to violate the Constitution or seize power and a few generals enjoy that decision, but the entire armed forces pay the price."

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