Govt shuts the door on Nawaz Sharif
Deports ex-PM to Saudi Arabia despite SC ruling; tight security cordon prevents people from reaching airport; activists clash with police; 4,000 held
ISLAMABAD: Former prime minister Nawaz Sharif was deported to Saudi Arabia on Monday noon over four hours after he landed in the federal capital following a Supreme Court ruling that ordered his unhindered homecoming.
There was a tight security cordon in and around the airport. However, sporadic law and order scenes were witnessed in some parts of Rawalpindi and Islamabad as supporters of the former prime minister tried to reach the airport.
Large-scale public reaction was not witnessed mainly because of the presence of heavy contingents of security officials and the tactics the government adopted. While strict security arrangements prevented his supporters from coming closer to the airport to greet their leader, Nawaz landed in Islamabad after seven years in exile living up to his pledge to return to Pakistan come what may.
A PIA flight (PK-786) from London landed at 8:42 am at the Islamabad airport with Nawaz Sharif on board. The former prime minister came out of the plane after a 90-minute standoff with the government negotiators. “It’s a great feeling,” remarked Nawaz Sharif at the airport lounge. “Up to here it’s fine but beyond it I don’t know.”
However, soon after Nawaz was served notices in a NAB case of money laundering and corruption and was arrested. He was then taken away from the people, who came along with him on the same flight.
Insiders say that Sharif was given the option either to opt for jail or go back to Saudi Arabia. Nawaz refused to be cowed down and wanted to stay in the country in any case. He was later forced to go back to Saudi Arabia, as the rulers feared that putting him in jail might mobilise the people against the government.
He was forced to board a helicopter that took a round of Murree and Margalla hills before landing at Chaklala Airbase where another PIA plane was ready to take off. The plane landed at Jeddah royal terminal around 5:15 pm. Nawaz, unlike the past, would stay at his own residence in Jeddah and it is learnt that he would not be allowed to leave Saudi Arabia before general elections are held in Pakistan.
According to credible sources, the Royal Saudi family would not maintain any contact with Nawaz, and low-ranking Saudi officials would keep in touch with him for routine matters. It is claimed that Nawaz has lost goodwill of the Saudi royal family.
“Nawaz was deported to Saudi Arabia as Saudi King Abdullah wrote a letter to the president, in which he quoted a Hadith relating to keeping promises,” said PML President Ch Shujaat Hussain in a talk-show. He said the government was ready to let Nawaz free hand but the Saudi King’s letter changed their decision.
A source said that Saad Hariri would no more be an interlocutor between Nawaz and the Saudis because of lack of trust. Twin-cities of Rawalpindi and Islamabad, especially the Islamabad airport, were under a virtual siege and thousands of armed personnel of various security agencies remained in action against political activists.
More than 4,000 PML-N activists were arrested ahead of the arrival of Nawaz Sharif. Police stations of the twin cities are brimming with detained leaders, workers and activists of the PML-N, but they are all confined under the MPO (Maintenance of Public Order) and a decision was still awaited till late afternoon, whether or not formal cases would be registered against them.
Local leaders, party workers and activists of the PML-N seemed to be aware of the stringent security measures put in place and instead of trying to take out any big rally or converging at a particular place before heading towards the Islamabad airport, they kept challenging the security agencies by coming out in small groups from different locations all over the city all of a sudden and tried to dash towards the Islamabad Airport.
However, the euphoria lasted till Nawaz remained on the Pakistani soil. As soon as the announcement came that he has been shoved into the plane for Saudi Arabia, all excitement died down rapidly and the law and order situation quickly returned to almost normal.
Security agencies put Islamabad airport under effective siege and they kept the leaders, workers and activists of the political parties outside the circle that was declared ‘cordoned off area’ according to the security plan already devised for the event.
Kachehri Chowk, Ammar Chawk, Committee Chowk, Rialto Chawk and Murree Road were theatres of war in Rawalpindi while Aabpara Chowk and Faizabad were arenas of battle in Islamabad. Dozens of political activists and police officials were hurt during the stoning between police and “charged activists”. One youth injured by a stray bullet at Committee Chowk was taken to District Headquarters Hospital where he was stated to be stable. Seven other wounded persons including one cop was also taken to different hospitals and sent back after medical aid was administered to them.
Police resorted to baton charge on a group of lawyers, who were trying to head towards the airport to accord welcome to Nawaz Sharif, and hurled teargas shells causing minor injuries to many of them.
There were 56 police check posts in Rawalpindi to stop the processions coming from other cities towards Islamabad Airport. Processions from some other cities like Lahore, Sheikhupura, Lohdran, Chakwal, Kasoor, Gujranwala and Jehlum tried to reach Islamabad but were stopped at the check posts.
Agencies add: The local administration blocked all the ways leading to the Islamabad airport and Rawalpindi by erecting fences, installing barricades and setting up police trucks in a bid to thwart a rousing welcome of Nawaz Sharif. Contingents of the federal police and the Elite Force had been deputed on main highways of federal capital to cope with any untoward incident.
The PML-N supporters held forceful protest demonstrations in different area of Rawalpindi on Monday afternoon as most of the enthusiastic supporters were determined to reach the airport for welcoming their leader but failed to do so because of heavy security obstacles.
Supporters of Nawaz Sharif and security personnel played hide and seek in many areas. The protesters and supporters of Nawaz, waved party flags and held up portraits of Sharif, threw stones at police and chanted “Go Musharraf go” slogans.
The law-enforcement agencies fired tear gas shells and baton charged the activists of PML-N and other opposition parties to disperse them. During the protest demonstration large number of PML-N workers were arrested by the security personnel. There was less transport on roads and commuters suffered a lot. Attendance in offices was also thin.
PML-N moves SC against deportation
ISLAMABAD: The Pakistan Muslim League (PML-N) on Monday filed a constitutional petition in the Supreme Court, challenging the deportation of former prime minister Nawaz Sharif.
The petition was filed by PML-N MNA Khawaja Asif under Article 204 of the Constitution, challenging the sending the former prime minister into exile in defiance of apex court’s verdict on August 23 that allowed the Sharif brothers to return to Pakistan.
Khawaja Asif prayed to the apex court to order that Nawaz Sharif be produced in the Supreme Court so that he may be dealt with in accordance with the law and orders of the court are implemented in letter and spirit.
The petition was filed in the morning when Nawaz Sharif was still at the Islamabad airport and it was contended that Nawaz was willing to face any case or trial and was not willing to leave the country under coercion.
Later, talking to reporters Khawaja Asif said that that the party’s apprehensions proved true as the government has illegally sent Nawaz into exile again. He said that, if need be, the party will file a separate petition, or amend the already filed petition in consultation with Fakhuruddin G Ebrahim, the counsel for the petitioner.
A journey littered with insult and humiliation
ISLAMABAD: Former prime minister Nawaz Sharif who hoped to end his seven-year long exile landed at the Islamabad airport on Monday only to face ill treatment, humiliation and insults by aggressive commandos before being sent to Saudi Arabia.
A lonely and depressed Nawaz was treated with total contempt at the Islamabad airport when low-ranking police officers were sent to talk to him. If this was not enough for the twice-elected prime minister of Pakistan, a visibly depressed and unaided Nawaz was aggressively pushed inside an old bus parked outside the VIP Rawal Lounge and shifted to the plane and sent into exile. As the bus headed towards the PIA plane, about 100 commandos also started running after the bus laughing and cracking jokes, and returned only when the plane had taken off.
Nawaz, who was very confident before landing at Islamabad that he would be received by thousands of his party workers and supporters, however, suffered one of the biggest humiliations of his life when an army officer of the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) told him in the presence of mediamen that he was under arrest on charges of money-laundering.
This public announcement initially gave the impression that he was not being deported to Saudi Arabia and instead would now be kept in jail in Pakistan. But this was not to be, and minutes later the commandos surrounded him. And before he could realise what was happening, furious-looking commandos wearing black uniforms captured a bewildered Nawaz and made him follow their instructions, as they aggressively started pushing him towards the immigration counter, which led to a scuffle between Nawaz Sharif’s party workers and the commandos. An emotional Pervez Rashid could not hold back his tears when he saw the former prime minister being humiliated by these commandos. He shouted in a passionate voice “show him respect, show him respect”. But, his emotional outburst fell on deaf ears.
A visibly disturbed Nawaz Sharif told these commandos that he should not be touched at all. He shouted furiously many times at them, after they tried to drag him. “No one should dare touch me”, he said. Nawaz and his supporters stood their ground for a while but soon their ‘resistance’ was broken by these rude commandos who even misbehaved with foreign and local journalists. Many foreign journalists loudly protested over this treatment.
An emotional Nawaz Sharif told mediapersons in a choked voice how he was being treated although he had come only after the Supreme Court of Pakistan had allowed him to return. But, soon loud shouts started coming from the immigration section after Nawaz was once again whisked away towards the plane. It was then that he and his supporters realised that he was actually being sent to Saudi Arabia and NAB’s announcement of his arrest was just a deception. This infuriated Nawaz even more and he once again tried to resist but he was overpowered by the commandos, who once again pushed him towards an old bus to reach the plane.
Earlier, during his seven-hour long journey from London to Islamabad, Nawaz kept sleeping in his club class seat after he decided at the Heathrow airport to reach Pakistan by a PIA flight. He was accompanied by Pervez Rasheed, Nadir Chaudhri, Lord Nazir Ahmed, Zubair Gul, Riazur Rehman, and many other friends. He was woken up by Pervez Rasheed only when the plane was about to land at Islamabad airport. Nawaz immediately left the club class and sat among the economy class passengers in the middle of the plane. His workers started chanting slogans of ‘go Musharraf go’. Nawaz remained in a very pensive and serious mood, having no idea what fate had in store for him. As the plane stopped at the runway, a heavy contingent of commandos laid siege to the plane. Nawaz refused to come out of the plane, having no idea about the next move of the commandos and most importantly, what the Musharraf government had planned to do with him once he came out of the plane.
Lord Nazir Ahmed who had accompanied him from London started negotiations with a police officer, Tahir, who came to see Nawaz Sharif inside the plane and saluted him in front of the cameras giving an impression that Nawaz might be treated with a lot of respect. This salute helped a lot to ease tension in the plane. The negotiations between the police and the Nawaz camp over certain modalities lasted for over one hour. The two sides discussed how Nawaz would come out and what kind of treatment he should get. At one stage, Kaleem Imam, the deputy director FIA requested Nawaz to hand him over his passport as he would bring it back after getting it stamped and fulfilling the immigration formalities. But a clever Nawaz did not accept this offer as he feared that after getting his passport stamped, he would be directly dispatched to Jeddah and the immigration record would be produced before the court to prove that Nawaz was allowed to enter Pakistan. Then the government would deport him to Saudi Arabia as there was no clear instructions from the court whether he could not be deported once he was allowed entry into Pakistan.
Finally, Kaleem Imam and other officers yielded to Nawaz’s conditions so that he could come out. As he emerged from the plane, he was pleasantly surprised to see a large number of civilian staff of the airport applauding and frantically waving towards him. This unusual sight greatly pleased Nawaz, as he was not expecting that he would be greeted by the officials of the airport in such a tense environment. This scene greatly irked the officials of the security agencies as they rushed to push those employees back but they kept on waving and clapping.
Nawaz along with the mediapersons was put in a bus, which took him to the Rawal Lounge, where he sat on a sofa along with his colleagues as Kaleem Imam offered him water, juice, and tea. Kaleem Imam also helped a lot to make the otherwise tense environment very comfortable with his polite attitude and generous hospitability. Because of Kaleem Imam’s efforts, at one stage the environment was so friendly and cordial that everybody thought that all was normal and the government had decided to fully implement the Supreme Court verdict. In a very polite and decent way, Kaleem Imam, however, constantly kept on trying to convince Mr Sharif to get his passport stamped to meet the requirements of immigration.
But Sharif said unless his top party leaders were allowed to receive him, he would not hand over his passport. But as time passed, Kaleem Imam was repeatedly put under pressure by the edgy and irritated officials of the secret agencies to put an end to his “hospitality” and let them do their job.
Meanwhile, a NAB officer appeared on the scene and he started reading out a charge-sheet against Sharif and told him that he was under arrest. Lt Colonel Qazi asked the commandos to help him take Nawaz into custody. This sudden twist in the otherwise very friendly environment produced a dramatic effect on all the people present there. Panic gripped the commandos who rushed to capture Nawaz after pushing journalists and his supporters aside. Nawaz resisted their attempt and told them not to touch him at all otherwise they would be held accountable. This threat worked for a while, but soon the commandos overcame their initial hesitation to misbehave with the twice-elected prime minister of Pakistan and started dragging and pushing him towards the immigration counter. This process lasted for ten minutes, during which Nawaz was manhandled by these commandos before being put on a plane to Saudi Arabia.
Nawaz opted for Jeddah, claims Durrani
ISLAMABAD: Information Minister Muhammad Ali Durrani said on Monday PML-N chief Mian Nawaz Sharif before being taken into custody was given the option of leaving for Saudi Arabia in line with his agreement with the Saudi government.
“Nawaz Sharif himself opted to go to Saudi Arabia on his free will, as he did not want to land in jail,” Durrani said while talking to the newsmen. He said the return of Nawaz Sharif was aimed at winning political mileage and the decision of not accompanying Shahbaz Sharif proves this fact. “Nawaz Sharif had left the country and his party on his free will in 2000 and he has done it again today,” he added.
Durrani said the departure of Mian Nawaz Sharif to Saudi Arabia has proved that he has been lying to the nation over his agreement with the Saudi Arabian government for the last seven years.
When asked about the reported maltreatment of Nawaz Sharif at the Islamabad airport, he denied that no such incident happened at the airport. “The government had given clear instructions that the media and Nawaz Sharif should be handled with care and respect,” he added. Secondly, he added, Nawaz Sharif was encircled by hundreds of his party workers at the airport and there has been no such statement reported by the PML-N,” said the minister.
When the minister was asked if the government had not violated the orders of the apex court, the minister said the government would obey all the orders of the court as it had done in the past. However, he was of the view that Nawaz Sharif himself had opted to leave for Saudi Arabia.
Referring to the role of Saudi Arabia, the minister said that Saudi Arabia was the most respected and trusted friend of Pakistan and respecting the friendly states is a golden tradition in the international relations history.
Meanwhile, Ruling PML President Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain on Monday said that the government has a moral obligation to send back Nawaz Sharif to Saudi Arabia. “Nawaz Sharif has signed an agreement for 10 years with Saudi Arabia and there was immense moral pressure for sending him back for abiding by the agreement,” he said in a statement.
Shujaat said he did not want to get into legal aspects of the whole issue, as it was a more a moral issue then the legal. He said after seven year Nawaz admitted about the signing of the agreement for five years as earlier he always denied the presence of any agreement. “Nawaz Sharif was claiming that a million people will receive him on the airport but he could not able to gather hundred people,” he added.
He said on his arrival he was given a choice either he wanted to go in jail or Saudi Arabia and he opted for the kingdom. “After telling a lie to people for last seven year, he should now seek pardon from Allah for next three years for the violating of the agreement,” he added.
Agencies add: Punjab Chief Minister Ch Pervaiz Elahi said that Muslim League government has deep respect for the courts and also respects the legal right of the citizens to return to their country.
However, he said that if somebody wants to leave the country willingly how can he be stopped. Sindh Chief Minister Arbab Ghulam Rahim Monday said that Nawaz Sharif has gone back to Jeddah voluntarily and there is no violation of court order in his case. Talking to state-run TV in a telephonic interview he said Nawaz has staged a drama as face saving tactics otherwise he was not serious for his return.
He said that morally Nawaz Sharif was bound to abide by the commitment he had made with his guarantors. Railways Minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmed said Nawaz Sharif was caught in the slip after playing a wrong shot confirming that he brokered five years exile agreement.
Talking to state-run TV, the minister said: “How the guarantors can allow him to breach the agreement as they told Nawaz thrice they (his guarantors) are the people who know how to keep their words. They had secured the release of Sharifs after hectic efforts, the minister said.
Terming the decision of Shahbaz Sharif to stay back as wise he said Sharifs want tight grip on the PML-N as in case of Shahbaz’s arrest the party could go to Javed Hashmi. “Shahbaz Sharif has still contacts with friends of the president and foreign guarantors. His stay in London can boost their party’s campaign,” he said.
Attorney General of Pakistan Justice (retd) Malik Qayyum has said that the arrest of Nawaz Sharif does not come under the case of contempt of court as the Supreme Court has allowed him to return to the country but there were no directives that he would not be arrested. Talking informally to reporters here at the Supreme Court, the AG said Nawaz was allowed to return into the country according to the Supreme Court verdict but his arrest was also according to the law. He said that any notice of contempt of court would be responded, if served.
Countrywide protest today
ISLAMABAD: In wake of the deportation of PML-N Quaid Nawaz Sharif and arrest of the leaders and workers of the All Pakistan Democratic Movement (APDM), its leadership has given a nation-wide call for a protest day today (Tuesday).
The law-enforcement agencies on Monday detained the entire leadership of the APDM, foiling their plan to reach the Islamabad airport to welcome Nawaz Sharif. “Protest rallies and demonstrations will be staged across the country,” said Mahmood Khan Achakzai, a central leader of APDM.
Almost all the leaders of the APDM parties were arrested from on Monday morning as they attempted to proceed to Islamabad Airport. It was not confirmed whether these leaders would be released to lead protest demonstrations today (Tuesday).
None of the APDM leaders could cross Zero Point and ultimately, they landed at different police stations, police headquarters in H-11 or were detained at Parliamentary Lodges. MMA President Qazi Hussain Ahmad was put under house arrest at his residence in sector E-7, Secretary-General Maulana Fazlur Rehman was detained in his apartment at the Parliamentary Lodges, PML-N Chairman Raja Zafarul Haq was detained in a rest house while acting President Makhdoom Javed Hashmi was put under house arrest at the Parliamentary Lodges in the wee hours of Monday.
Former president Rafiq Tarar, PML-N Secretary-General Iqbal Zafar Jhagra, central Information Secretary Ahsan Iqbal and Vice President Tahmina Daultana were the first to be arrested from Zero Point, when the day broke. They were detained at Police Headquarters.
Tarar in utter disregard for his status and age was manhandled as two police commandos grabbed him from his arms and forced him into a police van. Other leaders also faced similar treatment. Mushahidullah Khan and party’s Islamabad chief Dr Tariq Fazal Chaudhry were also picked up by the police along with other workers.
Other APDM leaders including Mahmood Khan Achakzai, Abdul Hai Baloch, Dr Qadir Magsi and Hameeduddin Al Mashraqi and J Salik were also arrested from Zero Point and taken to Police Headquarters.
Central PML-N leader Chaudhry Nisar Ali, party’s president Punjab Sardar Zulfiqar Khosa and ex-Punjab minister Raja Ashfaq were arrested from a house in Sector F-10/1 after the a police siege of the house for over two hours.
Meanwhile, addressing a press conference later, the central leaders and parliamentarians, including Khawaja Asif, Chaudhry Jaafar Iqbal, Begum Ishrat Ashraf and Saad Rafique, said a number of APDM leaders and hundreds of workers were arrested on Monday.
They said that on the call of APDM leadership, the countrywide protest day would be observed on Tuesday against sending Nawaz Sharif back to Saudi Arabia. Asif said he has filed constitutional petition in Supreme Court under Article 204 of the Constitution against deportation of Nawaz Sharif.
Going from bad to worse
ISLAMABAD: Nothing worse can possibly happen to Pakistan what Gen Musharraf-led military regime did on Monday. The Supreme Court of Pakistan was never humiliated in this manner before. The Constitution of Pakistan was rarely trampled, negating former prime minister Nawaz Sharif’s fundamental right to stay in his homeland, like what we saw on yet another sorry day of Pakistan.
Nawaz Sharif’s second exile, which is in complete violation of the law of the land and the Constitution, is seen by many as a prelude to the establishment’s possible attack on the recently found independent judiciary and it’s Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry. Fears of the imposition of martial law are all time high now.
The government’s shocking move is undoubtedly a clear-cut head-on collision with the superior judiciary. It sounds and seems dangerous. But at the same time it is not possible for the Supreme Court to ignore Monday’s happenings. The PML-N and members of the civil society will immediately knock the doors of the judiciary and the people do expect from the apex court that justice would be done.
The greatest dilemma of the Monday’s episode is that in the history of Pakistan we have never seen any government daring to get involved in such a blatant violation of the Constitution despite a clear decision from the country’s top court. Mr President Gen Pervez Musharraf, what a great service you have done to this country and the nation!
There are perhaps rare precedents of governments drooping to such lows to perpetuate their rules. A bona fide citizen of the country and the twice-elected prime minister of Pakistan has been sent on forced exile in clear violation of Article 15 of the Constitution, simply ignoring what the Supreme Court of Pakistan had clearly said that the Sharifs have the right to enter and remain in the country.
There were clear indications from the government side even on the day when the Supreme Court handed down its judgment on the Sharifs that it was not ready to honour the apex court’s decision. Minister for Parliamentary Affair Sher Afgan Niazi’s contemptuous outburst against the Supreme Court on the very day this SC’s judgment was issued, was an uncouth defiance of the government to the court’s decision.
No one from the government condemned Afgan, the loose cannon in the Shaukat Aziz cabinet. He would have been shown the door if such a thing had happened in any civilized country in the world. But perhaps we are not civilised and law of jungle prevails. Nawaz Sharif’s latest story speaks volumes about it.
Now what are the choices left for the country’s civil society. Will they swallow how the government attempted to ruin their hopes that they had attached with the recently emerged judiciary’s independence or would revive the post-March 9 movement for rule of law? Only the days to come would answer this question. But the Nawaz Sharif’s exile has saddened most even including those who are not associated with his party.
Aitzaz Ahsan has rightly said that Nawaz Sharif has been kidnapped and his exile is not merely a contempt of court case. Aitzaz charged that Saudi Arabia has been turned into Guantanamo Bay for the Pakistanis. He added that Riyadh is an accomplice of this brutal crime committed.
On the other hand, the government has hardly gained anything. This action of the regime has angered the people in general and furthered their contempt against the present regime. It will now be facing scathing criticism from all and sundry. Although Nawaz Sharif has been bundled back to Riyadh, full marks to him for showing a brave face and immense grace. Sharif’s images on the private television channels would have frightened the rulers, who thought it appropriate not to allow the most popular leader of this country to stay in Pakistan.
Apparently, a threat to Musharraf is over. But how would the government cope with the fallouts of its blunder. Kalsoom Nawaz has already announced to re-jump into the political arena and come to Pakistan very soon. She will be a serious threat to the present regime at a time when the presidential elections and the general polls are just round the corner. Will she be deported too?
The Chaudhry Shujaat Hussains and the Sheikh Rashids of this world are saying that they were against the deportation of Nawaz Sharif. Most of the ministers have also been expressing their complete ignorance of as to what was going to happen with Nawaz Sharif. Then on whose advice the president violated the Constitution and humiliated the apex court although violating Constitution is nothing new for him. The September 10 government plan seems to have been the consequence of the same ill-advised advisers, who were behind the March 9 bungling. Musharraf has played a great gamble and is unlikely to walk out of it unscathed.
Presidency denies role in deportation of Nawaz
ISLAMABAD: The Presidency said on Monday it played no role in the deportation of Mian Nawaz Sharif. “Put this question to the government. The Presidency has nothing to do with it,” presidential spokesman Maj-Gen (retd) Rashid Qureshi made a curt reply to The News, when asked who was responsible for Monday’s episode.
Qureshi was reluctant, however, to speak more on the issue, probably because of the sensitivity involved in this regard. He kept putting counter-questions as to who in the government blames the Presidency for playing any role or offering any advice on Sharif’s deportation.
Another senior official of the Presidency, who deals with the media, was annoyed by the queries about the Presidency’s involvement. Asked again as to who finally decided to deport Nawaz Sharif he repeated what he had said earlier: “Ask the government”.
Asim Yasin adds: After the deportation of former prime minister Nawaz Sharif to Jeddah, the government has presented the report of the whole operation just after its completion to Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz, while updating him on the whole episode.
According to sources, the Interior Ministry gave a detailed briefing about the whole operation at a high-level meeting chaired by Prime Minister Aziz here on Monday at the PM House. The sources said the prime minister was updated on the whole situation starting after the landing of the former premier’s plane at the Islamabad airport.
The sources said the situation in the aftermath of the episode of Nawaz Sharifís deportation also came under discussion in the meeting in order to formulate strategy for maintaining law and order in the country.
Shaukat Aziz expressed his satisfaction when former prime minister Nawaz Sharif was deported to Saudi Arabia. During the meeting, it was also decided that the government will not allow anyone to take the law into his hands and whosoever disturbs the environment will be taken to task.
The sources said three rounds of the consultative meetings were held to formulate a political strategy to deal with a situation arising in the wake of deportation of the former premier. The first meeting was held at the PM House, second at the residence of Pakistan Muslim League President Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain and the last one again at the PM House where final touches were given to a government strategy to politically deal with the issue.
Meanwhile, an official spokesperson said that Nawaz Sharif was offered to return to Saudi Arabia on his arrival at the Islamabad International Airport. “Before being taken into custody, Nawaz Sharif was offered an opportunity to return to Saudi Arabia, in line with the terms of his agreement with the Saudi Arabian government”, the official said.
He said a special flight then flew out of Islamabad, taking Nawaz Sharif to Saudi Arabia. The spokesperson said on his arrival in Pakistan from London, Nawaz Sharif was brought to the lounge to be processed through the arrival formalities. He said Nawaz Sharif was served with a warrant based on a case under the National Accountability Bureau (NAB).
Kulsoom vows to return in a few days
Sharif family insists on right to return; Shahbaz terms deportation a slap on the face of judiciary
LONDON: The Sharif family members expressed anger on Monday over the deportation of former prime minister Nawaz Sharif and vowed to return to the homeland to work for democracy and constitutionalism.
In various media interviews, they termed the deportation a “black day in Pakistan’s history” and a “slap on the face of the judiciary”. In an interview with a Pakistani private TV channel, Begum Kalsoom Nawaz, the spouse of Nawaz Sharif, announced she would participate in active politics, saying that she would return to the country within a few days.
Kalsoom said that Saad Hariri, at the time of agreement, had assured them that they would be free within the next three months and also asked Nawaz not to publicise the agreement. She added that the PML-N Quaid was honouring the agreement since last seven years. “The agreement was oral, not written.”
Rejecting the impression that Nawaz could not come to the country for three more years, she said: “We would be there soon and would fight against dictatorship,” adding: “We will return to the country with in few days and then will take part in the politics.”
Speaking to the media at the party’s International Secretariat here, Nawaz’s brother and PML-N President Shahbaz Sharif termed the deportation a complete violation of the Supreme Court's decision and said the apex court would be approached over the issue.
Shahbaz lashed out at President Musharraf, saying: “The dictator is still sticking to his intractable attitude. Gen Musharraf has slapped on the face of the judiciary by deporting Nawaz Sharif. Gen Musharraf is playing his last card. He will have to face the consequences for his decision.”
He expressed his determination that they would eventually return to Pakistan and work for democracy, rule of law and constitutionalism. He said it was their inalienable right to return home in the light of the Supreme Court decision. He hoped the people of Pakistan would react to this “contempt of court”
Answering a question, the PML-N leader said: "We have admitted several times that we did several mistakes in the past and have learnt lessons from those mistakes. Farooq Leghari instituted cases against Benazir Bhutto, while in Benazir’s tenure several cases were registered against us," he added.
Hasan Nawaz Sharif, the son of the former prime minister, said his father’s deportation to Saudi Arabia was Òa bad day in the history of PakistanÓ. Nawaz Sharif was “disappointed” to have been deported from his homeland but will go back to Pakistan “as soon as he can.” ”It’s a bad day in the history of Pakistan,” he told Sky News television in Britain. “Mr Musharraf, make no mistake about it, he will be back,” he added. “Forcing him to go back to Saudi Arabia... against my father’s will will never be a happy ending for the people of Pakistan.”
About the reaction of Nawaz to his deportation, Hasan said: “He is very disappointed, but equally he has very high spirits. He is a very courageous man. Everybody witnessed what he did today.” Asked about his father’s plans, he added that for the moment he is “very very tired” after the trip to Pakistan and then back to Saudi Arabia. “But of course that will not stop him thinking about the Pakistani people... about restoring democracy in Pakistan. And I’m sure in the not too distant future he will come out with a very solid plan.”
The son-in-law of Nawaz Sharif, Capt (retd) Safdar alleged in another TV interview that the government again violated the Constitution by deporting Nawaz Sharif. “It is a flagrant violation of the Constitution. A dictator is bashing the Constitution.”
Safdar contended that the family did not knew in advance about the deportation of Nawaz. “It was not in our knowledge before the actualisation of this very pertinent action of the government,” he said, but added that there would be a severe reaction against the violators of the apex court decision. “The judiciary is independent and the people of Pakistan are also backing it,” he stated.
US, EU concerned over violation of SC ruling
ISLAMABAD: The United States and the European Union have taken exception to the fact that despite clear orders from the Supreme Court of Pakistan, former prime minister Nawaz Sharif was once again sent into forced exile to Saudi Arabia.
Spokesperson at the US Embassy in Islamabad told The News: “The Pakistani government’s decision to deport Mr Sharif to Saudi Arabia runs contrary to the Pakistani Supreme Court’s decision on his return. Since this is still a matter under legal consideration, we’re not going to offer further comment at this time.”
“It is important that the transition to a new, elected government proceed in a legal and constitutional manner,” he said. “With regard to the pledge that Mr Sharif made not to return to Pakistan, these are matters between Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and Mr Sharif himself. The United States plays no part. We hope that all involved in the current political transition will act peacefully and avoid violence. The question of Mr Sharif’s legal status is an internal matter of Pakistani law. I refer you to the Pakistani authorities regarding further information available on Mr Sharif,” the US embassy spokesperson concluded.
The EU was also quick in its response even before one could hear from Washington and it clearly stated that Nawaz Sharif should be allowed to return from exile and be given the chance to defend himself against corruption charges in a Pakistani court.
EU spokeswoman Christiane Hohmann told reporters in Brussels that Pakistan’s government should respect an August ruling by the country’s Supreme Court that Sharif should be allowed to return to Pakistan and that authorities should not obstruct him. “In our view the Supreme Court ruling is very clear and should be respected,” Hohmann said. “So if there is any legal case against Mr Sharif, he should have a chance to defend himself in a Pakistan court,”she said.
The United Kingdom from where Nawaz Sharif came to Pakistan has also expressed its apprehensions on the deportation of the former prime minister. Agencies add: The White House on Monday described deportation of Nawaz Sharif as an "internal matter" of Pakistan but urged the upcoming elections to be "free and fair". "This is an internal matter for the Pakistanis to deal with," said national security spokesman Gordon Johndroe. Asked what impact the deportation might have on Pakistan's upcoming election, Johndroe said: "We will continue our discussions with various Pakistani parties" for there to be "free and fair elections."
India also said the deportation was "an internal matter," but hoped Pakistan would remain peaceful and stable. "This is an internal matter," Foreign Minister Pranab Mukherjee told reporters, when asked about political "instability" in Pakistan, following Nawaz's brief return to Islamabad and subsequent expulsion. "We want a peaceful, prosperous and stable neighbour," Mukherjee said.
Meanwhile, Foreign Office spokesperson Tasnim Aslam said on Monday the EU statement about the return of former prime minister Nawaz Sharif has not taken into account the background of this matter. "There is a background to this matter which the EU statement has not taken into account", the spokesperson stated when asked to comment on the EU statement regarding former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. The spokesperson, however, added the interior minister has already responded stating that Nawaz Sharif's return to Saudi Arabia was in accordance with the law.