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SHER AAYA TO PINJRE MEIN DAAL DENGE
I am coming, declares Nawaz Sharif in London; likely to be arrested at airport
- PT Foreign Desk
I am coming, declares Nawaz Sharif in London; likely to be arrested at airport



OUSTED AND NOW sentenced to 10 years in jail, former Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has declared he is returning from London to lead a massive agitation against what he called "a bunch of judges and army generals" but he is likely to be arrested at the airport as soon as he lands.

While Sharif himself and daughter Maryam are in London, authorities failed to arrest his son-in-law, Captain (retired) Mohammad Safdar, who was present in Pakistan.

Nawaz Sharif, his daughter and his son-in-law were given prison terms in a case of corruption on Friday. A number of newspapers and TV channels in Pakistan quoted sources in the government and army to say that Nawaz Sharif will be arrested as soon as he alights from a plane in Pakistan.

"I am not a thief. We got independence from the British but a handful of judges and a handful of generals are disrespecting democracy...I will fight to ensure that the people's vote is respected...the mandate of the people is being stolen. If the price is handcuffs or jail, then I am returning to Pakistan to pay that price," Sharif declared in London.

As per Pakistani law, if Nawaz Sharif, Maryam and Safdar had been present in the court when the judgement was pronounced, they would have been arrested on the spot.
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Nawaz Sharif: "Let’s change Pakistan; we have been waiting for this day for a long time, it is here now and there is no room for hesitation…Poori quom ko bahar nikalna chahiye.” 
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Maryam was a candidate from Lahore's NA-127 constituency for the July 25 general elections, but now she cannot contest as per Pakistani law following her conviction and sentencing in a graft case. PML-N Lahore president Pervaiz Malik’s son Ali Pervaiz is likely to contest the seat. 

As confusion and uncertainty raged in Pakistan about the fate of the PML-N supremo and his children, Sharif put up a brave face in London, saying he plans to return once his ailing wife, Kulsoom Nawaz, regains consciousness.

Doctors at the London medical facility where she is under treatment, have little clarity if or when her condition is likely to improve.

Incidentally, Sharif was allowed to leave Pakistan after he submitted explicit guarantees that he would return to Pakistan and will attend the trial in the accountability court in Islamabad.
 

At a press conference Nawaz Sharif addressed, sitting next to his convicted daughter Maryam, he sounded defiant and ruled out any intention to seek asylum in Britain or anywhere else.

"Let’s change Pakistan; we have been waiting for this day for a long time, it is here now and there is no room for hesitation,” he said.

Maryam also kept the same tone: "I knew that I will not be welcomed with garlands for the issues I am raising my voice for. But someone had to light the first flame which we have."

(Read Punjab Today’s detailed story on the court verdict that awarded a 10-year jail sentence to Nawaz Sharif by clicking here - https://goo.gl/cFpKdv )
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Pakistan seems all set to face a period of upheaval and political uncertainty. Besides, the likely arrest of Nawaz Sharif will further deepen political polarisation in the country.” 
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Responding to a question, Nawaz Sharif said even the judgement of the accountability court mentions that no charge of corruption has been proven against him.

"Poori quom ko bahar nikalna chahiye...yeh zulm qurbani maangta hai, main qurbani dene ke liye taiyar hun...mera saath do, bahar niklo, todo in zanjeeron ko," Nawaz Sharif said, adding, "Mujhe akela mat choddo, mera saath do."

"Do not hesitate. Let us march and change Pakistan. Only then will Pakistan prosper," Nawaz Sharif said, thus clearly indicating that he is all set to launch a major mass movement in Pakistan and his party, the PML(N) will be leading it from the front.

Indirectly referring to Imran Khan, whose Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI, or Pakistan Justice Movement) is seen close to the army establishment, Sharif said those now in a dalliance with the deep state powers will soon realise their mistake. "Right now, they are too eager to become Prime Minister," he said. 

The unprecedented judicial verdict against Nawaz Sharif is a watershed moment in Pakistan's democratic march. While some see the developments as part of the evolution of an independent judiciary not subservient to the executive, others think the court judgement has been too harsh and will only help the narrative of the PML(N) that certain forces were out to steal the election.
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Nawaz Sharif: "Let’s change Pakistan; we have been waiting for this day for a long time, it is here now and there is no room for hesitation…Poori quom ko bahar nikalna chahiye.” 
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Pakistan seems all set to face a period of upheaval and political uncertainty. Besides, the likely arrest of Nawaz Sharif will further deepen political polarisation in the country. Few are still ready to concede that this is the end of the dynastic politics in Pakistan.

Writing in the reputed Pakistani newspaper Dawn, senior author and journalist Zahid Hussain, said, "The Panama ruling has also broken the widespread perception that (Nawaz) Sharif being a Punjabi leader was untouchable while leaders from Sindh and the other smaller provinces could easily be dispensed with."

Meanwhile, the second and third rung leaders of the PML(N) appeared confident that Shahbaz Sharif will be leading the party into the elections will added impetus. Zahid Hussain said it will play the victimhood card and project the ousted prime minister as a ‘political martyr’. 

But how will the Sharifs deal with the moral deficit underlined by the high end properties is still a million dollar question.

(Read Punjab Today’s detailed story on the court verdict that awarded a 10-year jail sentence to Nawaz Sharif by clicking here - https://goo.gl/cFpKdv )

In Nawaz Sharif's absence, his brother Shahbaz Sharif has failed to catch the public imagination in the same way. The PML-N cadre seems to respond primarily to the political appeal of Nawaz Sharif.

Pakistan's major political parties are dominated by personalities, a fact that disappoints from a democratic perspective. The country has failed to foster democratic traditions but then even a much better Indian democracy has seen the rise of the personality cult.

A glimpse into Pakistan's recent past. 
 
Earlier on Friday, the accountability court announced the verdict in the Avenfield properties corruption reference filed by the National Accountability Bureau (NAB), handing Nawaz 10 years as jail time for owning assets beyond income and one year for not cooperating with NAB. The sentences will run concurrently which means the former prime minister will serve 10 years in jail.

His daughter Maryam Nawaz was given seven years for abetment, and one year for non-cooperation with the bureau — also to run concurrently; she will serve seven years in total.

Many in Pakistan sense a growing rift within the PML-N. Shahbaz Sharif offered a limited defence of his elder brother. He was critical of the NAB process, while Nawaz Sharif and Maryam Nawaz kept up a tone too strident. 

Shahbaz Sharif made one thing clear: the PML-N will continue to campaign and take part in the general election.
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Clearly, the deep state of Pakistan now doesn’t want Nawaz Sharif in power. Major media houses are towing the establishment line. However, one fact remains: Nawaz Sharif remains popular with millions. 
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Once a blue-eyed boy of Pakistani establishment:

Ironically, Nawaz Sharif, who is now fighting against the entrenched power centres in the army, enjoyed the blessings and support of Ziaul Haq in the early 1980s. The dictator had handpicked this young businessman and made him Punjab’s finance minister, from where he was to soon become the chief minister of Pakistan's largest and most important province. 

Sharif enjoyed the backing of the security establishment, formed an alliance against Benazir Bhutto’s PPP, and won the 1990 polls. Though was ousted in 1993, he remained close to the establishment but fell out with Musharraf in 1999. He was ousted in a coup and forced into exile. At one stage, he had expressed a desire to make constitutional changes to become the ‘commander of the faithful’.

Now a loud voice talking about respect for people's mandate, Sharif has a poor track record. He ignored parliament, relied on family members and a small coterie to implement questionable policies. He permitted extremism to flourish before deciding to reverse his stance.

The Economist, in a recent article on Pakistan, wrote:

"… Mr Sharif returned to power in 2013 eager to assert civilian control of foreign and security policy, which the army regards as its exclusive domain. In reply, the army undermined Mr Sharif, backing a months-long street protest by a big opposition party [the PTI] aimed at overthrowing his government. It also refused the government’s request for help in dispersing another group of protesters that had blocked a busy intersection last year. A general was photographed at the scene handing money to the protesters…

"… PTI has benefited from a wave of defections from the PML-N in ... Punjab. In private, many politicians admit to being pressed, in some cases with the threat of corruption charges, to leave the PML-N.…”

Clearly, the deep state of Pakistan now doesn’t want Nawaz Sharif in power. Major media houses are towing the establishment line. 

However, one fact remains: Nawaz Sharif remains popular with millions, especially in Punjab. If he launches a major agitation, things can spiral out of hand fast. For a near failure of a state, Pakistan will pay a heavy price for this state of affairs.
 


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