ISLAMABAD: Several senators on both sides of the aisle on Monday fired a broadside at former prime minister Nawaz Sharif for his recent statement about the Mumbai attacks, with some going as far as demanding that the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) supremo be tried under treason laws.

The discussion on a motion on the country’s political situation turned into diatribe against Mr Sharif who, many senators claimed, had made an irresponsible remark that could prove damaging for the country. They demanded that he apologise to the nation and retract his statement. Some of the senators even demanded that the PML-N leader be tried for high treason; that his name be placed on the Exit Control List, and a thorough investigation to determine the reasons behind the statement made by a thrice-elected prime minister.

Several senators belonging to the Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam-Fazl — an ally of the ruling PML-N — also condemned Mr Sharif’s statement, saying he had endorsed the “enemy’s” narrative. Maulana Abdul Ghafoor Haidri also proposed a probe to determine why the former PM had made the statement.

The senators pointed out that while Mr Sharif was determined to stick to his words, his younger brother Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif had claimed that the remarks had been distorted and presented in a misleading manner. They also criticised Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi for what they called acting as an advocate for Nawaz Sharif.

Non-state actors were hired by India, says Rehman Malik

They said the former PM had insinuated that the non-state actors who had carried out the attacks in Mumbai were sponsored by the state of Pakistan. They said going so far in a bid to escape accountability was highly condemnable.

Former interior minister Rehman Malik said there was no doubt that the 2008 Mumbai attacks had been carried out by non-state actors in Pakistan who had been hired by India. He claimed that the attackers had travelled in a boat and stayed with a woman, who was an operative for Indian intelligence agency RAW. This was why investigators from Pakistan were not allowed access to suspect Ajmal Kasab, he claimed, because they knew that the drama they had staged themselves would be exposed. He advised Mr Sharif to retract his statement.

Senator Nauman Wazir read out the definition of “treason”, and requested the Chief Justice of Pakistan to take notice of Mr Sharif’s “treasonous” remarks.

Senator Faisal Javed suggested that the former prime minister’s name should be placed on the ECL and a probe be launched into his sons’ businesses in India.

Senator Shibli Faraz of the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf said the PML-N lawmakers had also condemned their leader’s remarks in their private conversations.

No one from the treasury benches was available to wind up the discussion, so Monday’s session was wound up without a response from the government’s side.

Earlier taking part in the discussion on the political situation, Senator Javed Abbasi of the PML-N said there was a threat to democratic institutions, adding that the Constitution had defined the role of the judiciary, executive and legislature and Pakistan’s salvation lay in strict adherence to the system.

He warned against targeting a political party and blocking its way, noting that everyone should have an equal opportunity of taking part in the upcoming electoral exercise.

He said that free and fair polls should take place on time. He referred to the rumours of an extended term of the interim government and said the prime minister and the leader of the opposition should decide the name of the caretaker prime minister without delay, and not leave the matter for others to meddle in.

Published in Dawn, May 15th, 2018


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