- Deposed PM says was warned in advance of hurdles if he proceeded with high treason case against former military dictator
- Says Zardari suggested legitimising 2007 ‘martial law’ but he refused to compromise over civilian supremacy
- Claims he was ‘saddened’ after spy chief ‘advised’ him to resign or go on a long leave during 2014 PTI-PAT sit-in protests
- Rejects impression that he’s against the army, says ‘entire institution suffers due to unconstitutional acts of a few generals’
ISLAMABAD: Beleaguered Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) leader Nawaz Sharif on Wednesday claimed that corruption references were framed against him as a punishment for his unwavering stance on civil supremacy — and particularly for filing a high treason case against former military dictator, General (r) Pervez Musharraf.
Making his submission in the accountability court hearing corruption references against him and his children, the deposed prime minister alleged that the cases against him were drafted after he refused to endorse the 2007 martial law imposed by Musharraf and instead filed a treason case against the former military strongman.
Nawaz was responding to a 29-page questionnaire handed to him by the accountability court in the Avenfield reference, which is one of the three cases filed against the former prime minister by the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) last year on the Supreme Court’s directives.
Referring to deteriorating civil-military relations, Nawaz began his answer by referring to the coup in 1999 which led to his ouster by Musharraf.
“On October 12, 1999, a general named Pervez Musharraf captured power by betraying the Constitution. The judges who welcome dictators in every era came forward to welcome him. Eight years later, on Nov 3, 2007, he [Musharraf] broke the constitution again in the name of emergency, he put a martial law, holding 60 judges including the then chief justice captive in their homes,” he maintained.
“As a democratic party, the PML-N took a clear stance against Musharraf’s acts. Keeping this stance, we clearly stated during the election campaign for the 2013 elections that Musharraf will be tried for high treason, under Article 6 of the Constitution, if the PML-N formed a government.”
He continued that after the PML-N formed its government in 2013, it initiated making contacts with legal experts on the case.
“I was advised to let go of this decision. Messages were delivered that nothing would happen to him [Musharraf] because of the cases but a lot of difficulties would be created for me. Ignoring these suggestion-like-threats, I remained steadfast in my aims,” he added.
‘NO COMPROMISE ON CIVILIAN SUPREMACY’:
“PPP chief Asif Zardari, along with a prominent political personality, approached me and suggested we legitimise the 2007 martial law imposed by Musharraf towards the end of his tenure, through parliament. He explained to me that such compromises are imperative for stability, but I told him that for the last 65 years we have been making such compromises, and that time has now past,” the former premier said.
“When the proceedings started against Musharraf, I realised that it would be hard to get the former dictator convicted,” he said, adding that “all the weapons are made for politicians”.
“When Musharraf left for the court in 2014, he directly went to the hospital as it was decided from before. Musharraf pretended to be sick and avoided the case hearings,” Nawaz said, adding the judges failed to send Musharraf behind bars for even an hour.
The former PM claimed that it was no longer a secret how the plan for the 2014 Islamabad sit-in was made, who supported the protesters for four months, and who made them call for his resignation as prime minister over alleged rigging in the 2013 election.
PTI Chairman Imran Khan “himself spoke of the umpire’s finger being raised”, Nawaz said. “Who was the umpire?” he asked.
“Before the filing of the treason case, I had met Imran Khan at Bani Gala and he never demanded my resignation. But surprisingly after Musharraf was booked, he met Tahirul Qadri in London where they decided to stage a sit-in against my government.”
‘RESIGN OR GO ON LONG LEAVE’:
The PML-N supreme leader alleged that the purpose of the 2014 sit-in was to remove him from power so that a treason case against Musharraf could be dropped. “During those days, an intelligence chief had sent a message to me that I should resign or go on a long leave,” he said, adding that it was very saddening.
“The purpose behind my attempted ouster was that it would not be difficult to wrap up the case against Musharraf if I had been removed,” he alleged.
The PML-N leader praised the armed forces’ sacrifices and pointed out that he had increased the defence budget and also refused $5 billion offered by the United States to not conduct the nuclear test in the 90s.
However, he said, it is also a “prerequisite for the sanctity of the armed forces that if any person suspends the constitution then he should be held accountable”.
“Only a few people in the armed forces stage a coup but the entire institution has to pay the cost,” he added.
“If only you could summon the souls of Liaquat Ali Khan, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto and Benazir Bhutto and ask them what happened,” he said, adding “If only all PMs could be summoned and asked why weren’t they allowed to complete their constitutional tenure?
“I want to say that the reason for my removal and the unfounded, malicious allegations against me is that I had refused to obey the orders,” he said, adding that he, being in power, had been considered a barrier to the achievement of certain goals so he was removed from the party’s chairmanship.
At the last hearing on Tuesday, Nawaz Sharif had criticised the Supreme Court-mandated Joint Investigation Team (JIT) for not making any “serious efforts” to record the statement of Qatar’s Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim bin Jaber Al-Thani despite the prince’s willingness to testify.
‘NOT EASY TO BRING DICTATOR TO JUSTICE’:
Separately, addressing a press conference at Punjab House, Nawaz repeated his allegations, saying “it is not easy to bring a former dictator to court”.
“I am holding this presser to reveal and bring on record why the Avenfield reference was filed against me,” Nawaz said, adding that “baseless cases have been filed against me following Panama Papers”.
He continued, “I have never been allowed to fulfill the constitutional term.”
“I have said this before and will say it again, decisions should be taken by the people.”
The ousted premier rejected the impression that he was against the army. “I know that the army’s weakness is the weakness of our defences. I recognise the services of the soldiers who lay their lives,” he said.
“Was there a Panama at that time? The answer is simply no. At that time, too, I was demanding civil supremacy. I wanted foreign and domestic policies to be in the hand of the elected representative.”
Claiming that he strengthened Pakistan’s defence, Nawaz said, “I advised the then army chief to carry out nuclear tests within 17 days.”
“Pakistan’s respect is important not dollars and had I not carried out the nuclear test, India’s military might would have been established in the region.”