- Convicted ex-PM says prepared to ‘face jail and even gallows’ but won’t keep silent over ‘disrespect of vote’
- Rejects reports that he plans to seek asylum in UK, urges supporters to come out of houses on Friday to ‘welcome him’
- Decries daughter Maryam’s conviction in Avenfield reference, says she wasn’t even a public office-holder
Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) supreme leader Nawaz Sharif on Wednesday said that he will reveal the names of the people who were involved in the conspiracy to oust him from power, as he vowed to return to Pakistan to face imprisonment “for the honour of the vote”.
Speaking at a press conference that was aired live on Facebook from London with his daughter Maryam by his side, the former premier said that he is returning to the country leaving his wife Kulsoom in Allah’s protection “despite seeing the bars of prison in front of my eyes”.
“Is there any Pakistani who has had three generations of his family go through an accountability process only to find out that no corruption was ever done?” he asked during the presser. He also criticised the court’s decision to sentence his daughter to a seven-year term in jail, saying those who did so “did not even remember in their hate what stature daughters have in Pakistan”.
“These people have not handed a prison sentence to my daughter: they have sentenced every daughter of this nation,” he said amidst chants of “Wazir-i-azam [prime minister] Nawaz Sharif!”
He said that he would not stop now whether he is imprisoned or taken to the gallows.
Speaking of the Avenfield reference verdict, the former premier noted that it was written in the verdict that he had been absolved of corruption charges.
Nawaz said the people of Pakistan once again saw the “real face of justice”.
He maintained that he respected every institution of Pakistan, noting that he made the country a nuclear-capable state.
“I have immense respect for the ‘Ghazis’ and ‘Shuhada’ of Pakistani armed forces in my heart,” the former premier said. “The martyrs sacrificed their today for our tomorrow.”
Nawaz, however, said that he had set out bearing the flag of “give respect to vote”. “I’m coming to pay off the debt of the nation that thrice elected me the prime minister,” he said.
“No force, oppression, imprisonment, jail… nothing will stop me.”
WON’T TAKE ASYLUM:
The former premier also clarified that he’s not going to seek asylum in the UK.
Without naming anyone in particular, Sharif asked: “We have been put on the Financial Action Task Force’s [FATF] grey list again. Is this your success, that you brought Pakistan back into the grey list?”
Nawaz claimed that the country’s industry had been adversely affected by the political upheaval over the last year. The China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) and many other projects have been halted and the dollar is constantly weakening, he alleged, adding that the PML-N government’s efforts over the past five years had been jeopardised.
“My heart is wounded at this current state of affairs,” he said. “Our green passport cannot be given the due respect until we are rid of these illnesses.”
“Have mercy on Pakistan and stop playing these games. Don’t punish the nation and the country.”
Nawaz then questioned why no prime minister in the country’s history has been able to complete their five-year term. “Were they all Nawaz Sharifs?” he asked.
The former prime minister said the forthcoming elections are a referendum and urged the public to “come out of their homes like lions” to vote.
“Don’t let any rigging or threat stop you. No power can keep us away from each other,” he said, addressing his voters.
He urged the country’s women to step out of their homes and join Maryam ahead of the elections.
“Shehbaz Sharif will come like a commander with a caravan and will resonate our chant,” he said, adding that all of their opponents and “those who operate on others’ commands” will have to face defeat.
Nawaz said he and Maryam will hear the “judgement” from jail on July 25, referring to the nationwide poll results. “The verdict will break the bars of the prison,” he added.