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BUNER / ISLAMABAD: Strongly reacting to widespread criticism and allegation against him for his remarks about the 2008 Mumbai attacks, the ousted prime minister, Nawaz Sahrif, on Monday demanded formation of a national commission to probe the matter and determine who ‘has actually committed treason’.

Those who worked for the integrity of Pakistan and its people were being labelled as ‘traitors’ while those who violated the Constitution were being called ‘patriotic’, said Mr Sharif while addressing a rally at College Playground in the Swari area of Buner district hours after the National Security Committee held a meeting in Islamabad over the controversial comments he made in a recent interview to Dawn.

The former premier, who had been disqualified by the Supreme Court decision last year in Panamagate case, said whoever was found guilty of treason should be hanged publicly. Some elements described him as a traitor when he said Pakistan was being isolated, he added.

“If I am actually a traitor or anti-national character, then come and form a national commission to probe the matter,” the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz supreme leader said, adding that 220 million people of the country would decide who the culprit was among those levelling the allegation and himself.

At accountability court, ex-PM reads out controversial statement and asks reporters what is objectionable in it

Mr Sharif then told the rally that he was a patriotic Pakistani and respected the army’s support on the Kargil issue. He claimed he was ready to work for the dignity and solidarity of Pakistan till the last drop of his blood.

He repeatedly asked his supporters in the rally to raise their hands to say ‘no’ to the apex court decisions of barring himself from becoming PML-N president, member of parliament and prime minister.

He said he was not ready to tolerate anyone bringing harm to the motherland and would continue to fight the powers working against the country’s interests. “Will you stand with me in this?” he asked the crowd.

He said being the former prime minister he was the custodian of national interests. He claimed that he was being “mistreated for making Pakistan a nuclear state, ending power load-shedding, building motorways, restoring peace to Karachi, Khyber Pakhtunhwa and Federally Administered Tribal Areas, bringing the Baloch to mainstream”.

Earlier talking to journalists outside the accountability court of Islamabad where he has been facing trial in Al-Azizia reference, the ousted prime minister said he had never said that terrorists had been sent from Pakistan.

Taking out his mobile phone from his pocket, he then read out some lines from his interview. “Militant organizations 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?” he read out and asked the reporters to point out anything found objectionable in that.

Asked why he had never condemned Indian intelligence agency’s officer Kulbhushan Jhadav, who had been involved in terrorism activities in Pakistan, Mr Sharif said: “Kulbhushan is an Indian spy. He was spying in Pakistan and has also been convicted.”

Mr Sharif, whose trial is expected to conclude next month, said why the trial of the [Mumbai attack] accused person could not be concluded.

He said the world was not ready to accept Pakistan narrative despite the fact that over 50,000 army personnel, police and civilians had sacrificed their lives in the fight against terrorists.

The former prime minister said he didn’t say anything new which had not been already on record. Retired General Pervez Musharraf, Gen Shuja Pasha, Gen Mehmood Durrani and Rehman Malik had made similar statements, he argued.

Meanwhile, the star prosecution witness of National Accountability Bureau Wajid Zia, who headed the Panamagate Joint Investigation Team (JIT), testified before the accountability court that the letters of Qatari royals were not real but a myth.

The witness said the Sharif family did not provide any document related to the transaction to Jeddah, the UK or Qatar in support of their money trail except of a spreadsheet that was not duly signed or notarized by the relevant authorities.

“The JIT concluded that the spreadsheet has been prepared to artificially connect dots in the money trail,” added Mr Zia, who is additional director general of the Federal Investigation Agency.

He also narrated similar facts that he had recorded in his testimony before the court in the Avenfield property reference with regard to money trail of the Sharif family.

The JIT head informed the accountability court that the Sharif family sold 75 per cent shares of Gulf Steel Mills and it was renamed as Ahli Steel Mills (AMS) in 1978. He said the remaining 25 per cent shares had also been disposed off. But contrary to the Sharif family’s claim that it had been handed over to the Qatari royals for investment purpose, Mr Zia said AED12 million was used for clearing the liabilities of Gulf Steel.

As the star witness could not conclude the testimony till rising of the court, further proceeding was adjourned till Tuesday (today).

Published in Dawn, May 15th, 2018