ISLAMABAD: Lambasting former prime minister Nawaz Sharif for his controversial remarks in an interview about the 2008 Mumbai attacks, Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) chairman Imran Khan on Monday demanded the former’s trial under treason charges.
“Nawaz Sharif has put the whole country at stake in a bid to seek help of the ‘international establishment’ for his own protection,” the PTI chief said at a press conference he had held in response to a media briefing by Shahid Khaqan Abbasi in which the prime minister endorsed Mr Sharif’s point of view and said some part of the interview had been twisted by the Indian media.
Mr Khan was of the view that the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) supreme leader had committed treason by negating Pakistan’s stance that Ajmal Kasab and other terrorists, who had carried out the attacks in Mumbai, were “non-state actors” and projecting India’s point of view that the terrorists had been sent by the Pakistani establishment.
“According to Pakistani authorities, including the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA), India did not cooperate in two separate investigations into the attacks simultaneously initiated in India and Pakistan and hushed up the case to conceal facts,” he added.
Demands resignation of Abbasi, Shahbaz for protecting former PM
The PTI chief said two former interior ministers — Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan and Rehman Malik — had given similar statements that Ajmal Kasab and other attackers were non-state actors and that the then government was not aware of their nefarious designs.
“However, Nawaz Sharif in his recent interview with Dawn said we could stop them (terrorists) from proceeding to Mumbai. If we could stop them, it means we had sent them to India,” he added.
He said Mr Sharif had failed to answer two questions put forward by the court during the Panama Papers case hearing — how the former prime minister made a fortune of Rs300 billion and how it was sent abroad. “When Nawaz Sharif could not answer, he started maligning the judiciary and the army in a bid to seek help of international establishment,” he added.
Mr Khan said the name of Mr Sharif should be placed on the Exit Control List because the former premier could escape abroad before the accountability court announced its verdict in corruption references against him next month.
The PTI chief also demanded resignation of Prime Minister Abbasi and PML-N president and Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif for protecting Nawaz Sharif in their recent statements. “Both of them claimed that Nawaz Sharif has not issued any statement against the country; rather he was misquoted by the Indian media,” he said.
“We know that Shahid Khaqan Abbasi is with Nawaz Sharif in corruption in many ventures, including import of liquefied natural gas (LNG), and, therefore, he is protecting Nawaz Sharif,” Mr Khan added.
He alleged that Mr Sharif and his sons — Hassan and Hussain Nawaz — had business interests in India and that’s why Indian businessmen like steel magnate Sajjan Jindal had visited Pakistan several times in the past and held secret meetings with the former prime minister. Mr Khan demanded a probe to ascertain whether Hussain and Hassan had any business interest in India as they owned 16 offshore companies.
Responding to a question that Mr Sharif had sought formation of commission on the issue of his interview and if he was found guilty he should be hanged, the PTI chief said: “I am afraid this may come true.”
Speaking on this occasion, PTI vice chairman Shah Mehmood Qureshi said he would start meeting the leaders of opposition parties from Tuesday and place Mr Khan’s demands before them to forge a national consensus on the issue. “Nawaz Sharif has no realisation what damage he has done to the country and its image,” he added.
Mr Qureshi asked Prime Minister Abbasi to present his and his government’s point of view on Mr Sharif’s interview on the floor of the National Assembly on Tuesday (today). “The prime minister should come to the house at 10.30am and explain whether he is with Pakistan or with Nawaz Sharif,” he added.
Published in Dawn, May 15th, 2018