LAHORE: Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Political Communication Dr Shahbaz Gill says PML-N supremo Nawaz Sharif is targeting the Army because it questioned him for what he called his anti-state activities in league with Indian premier Narendra Modi and his “business partnership” with Indian businessman Sajjan Jindal, whom he secretly met in Murree.
Mr Gill alleged that Mr Sharif and his government were not immediately inclined to announce that Pakistan had apprehended Indian spy Kulbhushan Jadhav. “[Retired] Lt Gen Asim Saleem Bajwa made frantic efforts to convince the Nawaz Sharif government to announce Jadhav’s arrest because such an announcement by the Army would have been seen as if Pakistan’s political government didn’t own it,” he said.
Addressing Mr Sharif, the SAPM said: “When you will commit such anti-Pakistan activities, questions will be asked and answers be sought.”
At a press conference targeting Mr Sharif for his “love and sympathies” with Indian leadership here on Saturday, Dr Gill said the former prime minister always came in conflict with the Army leadership when it asked him about his “secret business deals” with the country’s arch-enemy India and other anti-state activities.
“Nawaz Sharif began his relationship with Indian leadership and businessmen to earn quick bucks but eventually got driven into it and landed in the enemy’s land to work in his business partners’ interest,” he alleged.
Gill says ex-PM was reluctant to announce Jadhav’s arrest and had to be persuaded by Saleem Bajwa
Quoting from Indian journalist Barkha Dutt’s book that Mr Sharif held a secret meeting with Mr Modi in Nepal’s capital Kathmandu and Pakistani diplomats’ statements that the then PM directed them not to issue any statement against India, Dr Gill said Mr Sharif held secret one-on-one meetings with Mr Modi and Mr Jindal while keeping the defence institutions at bay — in sheer violation of state protocols being observed the world over.
When the defence institutions asked questions, he said, Mr Sharif started targeting and maligning them and tried to take refuge under the slogan of democracy.
Explaining why the former PM always encountered conflict with the Army, Dr Gill said Mr Sharif always wanted to become an “Ameer-ul-Momineen” to enjoy absolute power while allowing no one to look into his shady deals with the anti-Pakistan state. He said Mr Sharif faced conflict with the Army in 1993 followed by conflict with Gen Pervez Musharraf, Gen Raheel Sharif and now with Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa.
The armed forces were guarantor of peace in Pakistan, he said and added that intelligence agencies had recently cracked down on an Indian network that was planning to kill Sunni and Shia leadership to fan sectarian violence in the country.
India always wanted to weaken Pakistan Army and attacked it to disintegrate Pakistan as it did in 1971, he said, adding that Indian PM Modi had confessed to it in Dhaka.
Referring to Mr Sharif’s act of welcoming him in Lahore and saying him goodbye at Lahore airport, Dr Gill said Mr Modi told the world that he wanted to engage with Pakistan but the latter was dragging its feet.
Alleging that Mr Sharif always spoke lies, Dr Gill advised him to stop targeting the armed forces. “Don’t do ‘dirty politics’ but target Prime Minister Imran Khan and his party if you have guts,” he asserted. “Be a man and come in direct conflict with PM Khan and political leadership as Mr Khan faced you during his 22-year-long political struggle in the country.”
The SAPM said the PML-N had become a “conspiracy hatching party” and many of its leaders did not want to become part of the party’s latest narrative promoted by Mr Sharif as they were loyal to Pakistan and its state institutions.
He said Mr Sharif started raising the slogan of democracy and attacking state institutions when he found himself caught for his misdeeds. He also chided the former premier for revealing state secrets about atomic bombs and cruise missiles in the media — in violation of his oath as prime minister.
He said the government knew that Mr Sharif was visiting an embassy in London and meeting some people these days and told Mr Sharif, “stop disgracing Pakistan”.
Dr Gill said democratic governments also made mistakes and added that the PTI would readily own its failures and would not shift the burden of responsibility to the armed forces.
He stressed that Mr Sharif should also stop targeting armed forces and do politics in true sense of the word.
Answering a question, the SAPM said the opposition was free to hold protests and public meetings without taking the law into their own hands. However, allowing an absconder and proclaimed offender to make speeches while sitting abroad was a “delicate situation”.
He said Pemra had imposed restriction on airing Mr Sharif’s speeches on the complaint of a lawyer and added that the people would take Mr Sharif to task on social media as they had done with MQM founder Altaf Hussain.
Calling Leader of the Opposition in the National Assembly Shahbaz Sharif a “pathetic” leader, Dr Gill said the latter had himself withdrawn his bail extension application and would probably file the application again while taking different ground.
Answering another question, the SAPM said some 32 PML-N MPAs were in contact with him when he was serving in Punjab.
Published in Dawn, October 4th, 2020