Nawaz Sharif, who was ousted from office for the third time on July 28, while addressing his party's leadership on Saturday expressed disbelief over the grounds for his dismissal, but resolved to continue struggling for the supremacy of the Constitution and rule of law in the country.
"I still do not understand the grounds for my dismissal," Nawaz Sharif said during a parliamentary committee meeting. "I am only content that I was not disqualified on the grounds of alleged corruption."
"When I never took a salary, what would I declare?" he asked, referring to the Supreme Court judgement that led to his ouster.
The joint investigation team report examined by the SC during the course of the Panamagate hearings revealed that Nawaz Sharif had not declared on his nomination papers for the 2013 General Election an income of 10,000 dirhams drawn from a Dubai-based company between Aug 7, 2006 and April 20, 2014.
"I was in exile and getting a visa at that time was difficult. When I went to London for Saudi Arabia, I could not live there for over six months. I had to travel to another country and return... So I would get my visa from Dubai every six months since London was the centre of our politics," he explained.
"So to get a visa, we thought, this would be a legal method ─ my son opened a company... He made me the chairman. And a salary was decided since you are required to be a salaried individual," he added.
"They disqualified me for not receiving a salary. Since it was not received, it is an asset that had to be declared. It is my son's company, not the government's company, and I was not making millions out of it," he claimed.
"When you take something, there's a problem; when you don't, there's a problem," he observed.
"Is it only my family that should be held accountable? Is everyone else in this country sadiq and ameen?" he asked.
"Some people urged me to resign, but I told them that it is not a bed of roses, but a bed of thorns that I am sitting on, and my conscience is telling me not to resign because I did nothing wrong."
"My conscience is clear," he continued. "If I had done something wrong; or taken something from this country that was not mine, I would have felt the guilt myself," he said.
"Maybe some 20 years ago I was not so ideological but time and various events have made me ideological. Living outside your country for seven years is not easy."
"My struggles throughout my life — to be exiled, to be jailed, to be sentenced for 27 years in jail, to be called a hijacker when I was the sitting prime minister — I have seen all that and suffered all that. There have been prime ministers before me, they've been hanged, and you've seen that."
"The way forward is clear: there should be supremacy of the Constitution and the rule of law. We've had regrettable moments in our history, but our future should be free of these regrets. We should all sit together and contemplate: how do we run this country better?" he continued.
"I do not care for myself: I only care for this country and its people," the former prime minister said.
"Everyone in the world is talking about this judgement: read their publications. See what they're saying. What more can I add?" he said.
"Nonetheless, like a jawaan who is willing to sacrifice himself for the country, I will always defend the rule of law and the Constitution for this country," he said. "I want my party leaders to support me in this. The 200 million people in this country are looking at you. Whatever happened has happened: I am happy there's no blemish on my character."
"We have to change Pakistan. I will support you day and night. I do not want power — this will be my struggle for the country. If we do right by this country, we will walk with our heads held high. I am no longer the prime minister, but I am still willing to do my bit."
"I do not want my life's work to go to waste. I want my struggles to bear fruit for this country. The 200 million people of this country deserve it. Again, I have no thirst for power. I no longer desire office — I only desire that my country is free of its burdens."
"What I have done for this country should be accepted," he said, reminding the party of his hand in various infrastructural and power projects, including the Lowari Tunnel and the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, the performance of the economy, and various social uplift projects like the PM's Health Card Scheme.
"I do not mean to sing my own praises, but I do want that my services to this country are acknowledged," Nawaz said. "The way we have been treated is shameful, and it should not have been so."
"We should not be destined to remain wayward wanderers. Please support me in leading this country forward. I promise you that this country will become a beautiful nation one day."
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