–Deposed PM tells local paper militant outfits still active in Pakistan, asks why trials of 2008 Mumbai attack accused haven’t been completed till now
–Indian media says Sharif’s statement vindicates India’s stance of Pakistan’s complicity in deadly attack
–Imran Khan says Sharif has ‘started a war with the army’
Deposed prime minister Nawaz Sharif’s controversial remark – linking the 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks to Pakistan – is being seen here as an attempt to put international pressure on the country’s military establishment, as the corruption trials against him and his family members enter a decisive phase.
The scathing comments also come on the heels of a recent announcement by the country’s anti-graft watchdog that it had initiated an investigation against the former PM into alleged laundering of $4.9 billion to India, citing a World Bank report. The World Bank was quick to reject the NAB claim, saying the allegations referred in the press statement were ‘incorrect’. Sharif had consequently sought an apology from NAB and demanded the resignation of its chairman, Justice (r) Javed Iqbal if the anti-graft body fails to prove money laundering allegations against him.
In an exclusive interview to English daily Dawn’s Cyril Almeida that appeared on Saturday, Sharif was asked about the reasons for his ouster. However, instead of replying to the actual query, the ruling party’s ‘supreme leader’ steered the conversation towards national security and foreign policy.
“Militant organisations are active. Call them non-state actors, should we allow them to cross the border and kill 150 people in Mumbai? Explain it to me. Why can’t we complete the trial?” alluding to the 2008 Mumbai attacks-related trials which have stalled in a Rawalpindi anti-terrorism court.
“It’s absolutely unacceptable. This is exactly what we are struggling for. President Putin has said it. President Xi has said it,” Sharif was quoted as saying.
Referring to the trial of former military dictator retired General Pervez Musharraf, he said, “The Constitution has to be supreme. There is no other way. Look, we put a dictator on trial; it had never been done before.”
The Indian media picked up Nawaz’s statement and headlined it as “Pakistan’s confession of ‘playing a role in 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks’”.
Several publications in India as well as the current affairs shows across the border gave extraordinary coverage to the statement. Headlines like ‘Nawaz Sharif questions Pakistan’s policy to allow ‘non-state actors’ to cross border and kill people’ that referred to 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks were shared on the Indian media.
‘NAWAZ HAS WAGED WAR AGAINST ARMY’:
Condemning Sharif’s remarks, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) chief Imran Khan claimed that “Nawaz Sharif has started a war against the army”.
Addressing a public rally in Karachi, Khan lashed out at the PML-N supremo for giving “anti-Pakistan statement to please foreign forces including India”.
The PTI chairman also alleged that Nawaz tried to save his corruption by targeting the apex court, joint investigation team for Panama Leaks case and army.
Meanwhile, PTI’s former secretary general Jahangir Tareen said, “Nawaz Sharif has today showed all Pakistan that his real loyalty is with the Anti Pakistan part of the Int’l establishment. Today he spoke like an enemy of Pakistan. Shame on you NS shame on you.”
Nawaz Sharif has today showed all Pakistan that his real loyalty is with the Anti Pakistan part of the Int’l establishment. Today he spoke like an enemy of Pakistan . Shame on you NS shame on you pic.twitter.com/P3B2fNL2wk
— Jahangir Khan Tareen (@JahangirKTareen) May 12, 2018
Columnist Mehr Tarar too criticised the PML-N supremo asserting, “Nawaz Sharif will say anything to malign the establishment and to do that Nawaz Sharif doesn’t even care about the integrity of the country that he lorded over thrice as the prime minister. His reckless statements to prop up his vengeance mantra are absolutely unacceptable.”
Nawaz Sharif will say anything to malign the establishment, and to do that Nawaz Sharif doesn’t even care about the integrity of the country that he lorded over thrice as the prime minister.
His reckless statements to prop up his vengeance mantra are absolutely unacceptable.
— Mehr Tarar (@MehrTarar) May 12, 2018
There was no comment from the Pakistani military’s public relations wing till the filing of this report.
Although ex-PM’s daughter Maryam Nawaz did not say anything about the statement herself, she retweeted a 2016 story titled ‘Ex-ISI chief admitted Mumbai attack planners were ‘our people’, claims Husain Haqqani’.
Social media analyst Omar Qureshi defended Nawaz by saying, “The same people who are calling Nawaz Sharif a traitor today would clap and applaud Gen Musharraf when as president he said that Pakistan used to send proxies to fight in Indian Kashmir.”
The same people who are calling Nawaz Sharif a traitor today would clap and applaud Gen Musharraf when as president he said that Pakistan used to send proxies to fight in Indian Kashmir
— omar r quraishi (@omar_quraishi) May 12, 2018
News reporter Murtaza Ali Shah wrote on Twitter, “Nawaz Sharif didn’t utter a word against Army in his interview but Imran Khan says NS trying to defame Pakistan Army to please foreign forces. This is like dragging a national institution into politics and doing politics over its name. Dangerous precedent.”
In 2016, the same publication’s report ‘Act against militants or face international isolation, civilians tell military‘ had given birth to the Dawn Leaks scandal, a much-hyped controversy that resulted in the resignation of Pervaiz Rashid, then information minister.