LAHORE/ISLAMABAD: The government on Friday vowed to bring back deposed prime minister and Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) supreme leader Nawaz Sharif from London and imprison him in a local jail before January 15.
Sharif has been residing in London since November last year on the pretext of medical treatment. His party insists that despite being summoned by the courts, who declared him a proclaimed offender in the Toshakhana corruption probe, the former premier will only return after the “completion” of his treatment.
Addressing a press conference in Islamabad, Minister for Information Shibli Faraz said, “Nawaz Sharif would be in Kot Lakhpat or some other jail by Jan. 15.” He further said that Sharif would not be allowed to “escape without answering for his crimes”.
Reiterating that Prime Minister Imran Khan was determined to hold all “corrupt” opposition politicians accountable, the minister said that the opposition’ desires for an end to cases against them “would never be fulfilled”.
“They [opposition] are experts in corruption and looted the nation’s wealth with impunity,” he said and derisively referred to PML-N’s slogan “vote ko izzat do” (honour the vote) as having been used by the party to “respect the money” during their years in power.
Later in the day, PML-N Vice President Maryam Nawaz — while commenting on the arrest of her husband, Safdar Awan, and the manner in which the arrest was carried out — reiterated her claim that the police had barged into her room and “violated her privacy”.
The police arrested Safdar from his hotel room early Monday morning for shouting political slogans inside the mausoleum the previous day, a crime punishable by regulations governing the premises. The arrest was made after a First Information Report (FIR) was registered against him Sunday for breaking the protocol and hurling murder threats at some individuals. The court granted him bail the same day.
Breaking the news on her Twitter account, Maryam had claimed the police, who went to take Awan, broke into her hotel room to make the arrest.
Responding to the claim, Faraz said the CCTV footage of the incident “proved” no door was broken.
“As per the footage, Captain Safdar seemed comfortable in police custody,” he said and added there was no anger on his face and “his body language did not show that he was disturbed”. The video proves the opposition’s allegations against the federal government were “lies”, he further said.
Responding to Maryam who dismissed the idea of an inquiry into the arrest, Faraz said, “On one hand, Maryam says there is no need for an inquiry. Then she says she will present herself if an inquiry is conducted.” The minister also said that members of the PML-N appear in front of the media every day to spew their lies.
It is in their DNA, he said, adding that this has always been the basis of PML-N’s politics. “They talk about democracy but when they were in government, they were the ones to violate the sanctity of the vote.”
They forget about the people when they are in power, he said.
Following Safdar’s arrest, reports claiming the kidnapping of Sindh Inspector General of Police (IGP) Mushtaq Mahar had emerged. Later in the day, some half a dozen top officials of the provincial police department including Mahar had applied for leave, citing the “manhandling” of their top brass.
Commenting on the episode which rocked the domestic political landscape and invited a plethora of absurd Indian claims of a “civil war” in the port city, Faraz said that the Sindh Police were “entirely” under the control of the provincial government of the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) and that the federal government had no role in it.
“We [center] did not arrest Captain Safdar. Sindh Police arrested him,” he said and added the opposition parties were “playing politics” and were not “sincere” with each other. “Bilawal Bhutto likely took revenge for his mother from them [PML-N],” he said, referring to the frequent clashes between the two parties during the 1990s.
‘SAFDAR’S ARREST VINDICATED NAWAZ’S NARRATIVE’:
Maryam, who addressed the media earlier in the day, said the Karachi incident had “vindicated” Sharif’s stance that there was a “state above the state” in Pakistan.
“What happened in Karachi has shown who is actually running the government,” she said. “[Prime Minister] Imran Khan is not the government. He is simply a dummy occupying a seat and that dummy has been silent for three days.”
“The Karachi incident has made it clear that Nawaz Sharif’s stance — about ‘state above the state’ and Imran Khan being nothing more than a pawn — is correct. Nawaz Sharif only said it, you [Imran] proved it […] showed the nation what a state above the state is,” she claimed.
When asked about the inquiry into the incident — which both the army chief and Sindh government said would be carried out — Maryam said that in her opinion there was no need for an inquiry as everything was already known.
“There is plenty of video footage,” she said, adding that the provincial government was well aware of what had transpired.
“If there is an inquiry, it should be transparent so that the nation knows everything and the report should be made public,” she further said.
The PML-N vice president said that given the way in which the government appeared to be scared and was “hiding in Bani Gala”, its tenure might be over even before January.