Former prime minister and PML-N supremo Nawaz Sharif spoke in a pre-recorded interview aired on Sunday about the trials and tribulations he and his family went through since his wife, Kulsoom Nawaz, passed away.
He began the interview by speaking about how PML-N Vice President Maryam Nawaz met her brothers and him after the death of her mother three years ago.
“I remember all those scenes, how my wife was on her deathbed and how cruelly we were treated — and those people who were making fun,” he said.
“I also remember, when I got to know that the sentence [in the Avenfield reference] was being announced on the 6th [of July, 2018], I said ‘my wife is very ill and is in a coma’. I don’t know what issue they had, but they didn’t listen to my plea.”
He said the purpose (of rushing the ruling) was that “Nawaz Sharif’s decision should be pronounced before the elections”, he said, adding: “I told Maryam they have announced the decision and we will go [back].”
Returning to Kulsoom, who passed away in his absence in the UK, he said: “We were trying to wake her up, you must have seen the videos. We then bid her farewell and went to Pakistan.
“What they did to us as soon as we landed is before you. Today, Maryam came after winning her case and proved the case and punishment were false.”
He asked: “Why did we suffer these 200-250 [court] appearances and why were precious five years of our lives wasted. Someone must be accountable, do I not have the right to ask this?
“Can’t I also ask that when Maryam came to meet me in Kot Lakhpat Jail, the jail authorities informed us that NAB had come and wanted to arrest her,” he said.
“This arrest was just done before my eyes to give me pain, otherwise there was no reason for this. Could this arrest not have happened at some other time?”
He then said he wanted to tell Imran Khan that such things happened during his rule “which never happened in any other time”.
He described one time when he was in Judge Arshad Malik’s court during which he was informed that his wife’s health had worsened and that she was in intensive care. “So I was worried and I — there was no way in court to ask someone to check — so I went to jail and in the room of the jail superintendent I asked him to allow me to talk [to family], but they told me ‘we can’t’.
“I pleaded with them to let me talk, but they didn’t allow it and took me to my cell and after three hours, they came and said ‘we are very sorry your wife has died’.”
He added: “So you can imagine what my condition was when I hear news of my wife’s death [while I was] in jail.”
He then said the bearers of the news were on their way to inform Maryam [who was also in Kot Lakhpat]. “I said ‘no, I will do it’. They reluctantly accepted and I went, and when I told her, she was in shock.”
He lamented that everyone knew his wife was ill. “She died and we were given this news in jail. These are events that are never forgotten. This loss can never be repaired or forgotten.”
The three-time premier said: “I think politics have their own place and there should never be cruelty on a person.”
He said now those who carried out the zulm were being “exposed and coming to light”.
“U-turns on everything, the nation is seeing it,” he added, referring to PTI Chairman Imran Khan.
To a question on the cases against him allegedly being part of a “political vendetta”, Nawaz quipped that the question contained the answer itself and referred to the alleged leaked audio clip of former chief justice of Pakistan Saqib Nisar regarding Nawaz and Maryam’s trial.
“There is an audio leak and you can’t deny it, its forensic [analysis] has also been carried out … do you need any greater evidence than this? Is there any bigger evidence than the things that judge Shaukat Aziz Siddiqui said?”
Nawaz lamented that suo moto notices were taken of many issues and said the “injustice upon injustice” with him for five years should also be looked into.
“Who doesn’t know that these were fake and fabricated cases with no weight or evidence?” the PML-N chief questioned.
He alleged that he was punished and disqualified for life to keep him away from elections and yet, today, lifetime disqualification was being criticised as “draconian”.
“So where is the rectification for [what happened with me],” Nawaz asked, adding that such matters should be brought before the nation.
Nawaz championed that his government had brought economic prosperity, finished loadshedding, increased employment and eliminated terrorism. He rued that now, however, Pakistan was “begging other countries for “$1 billion”.
He also addressed Imran’s stance of “absolutely not” to US airbases in the country and questioned on what basis the former premier was making such claims or what had he done to back it up.
“We were the ones to say ‘absoutely not’. They offered us $5bn but we said: ‘Absolutely not. We don’t want them,’” apparently referring to the nuclear tests conducted during his tenure in the 90s.
Nawaz alleged that Imran had ruined the country’s relations with its allies and other nation, and kept “fooling” the nation with his “absolutely not” narrative.
On the Supreme Court disqualifying him as the prime minister in the Panama Papers case, Nawaz questioned whether there was a “valid reason” for the decision. “Disqualified for life and removed from the PML-N presidency. This is revenge, not a court’s decision,” he added.
In the process of “taking revenge against me”, he alleged the country’s fortunes were sunk too. “Who told you to do this?”
Nawaz said that the judges who had committed such “injustices” should be made accountable for them, adding that “today they will find nothing other than shame when they reflect on themselves.”
“We will have to hold these people accountable if we want to take Pakistan forward.”
Regarding the recent alleged audio leaks about Imran, Nawaz them up to karma, adding that “the one who plotted has turned out to be the biggest conspirer,” further wondering what else would come to light.
To a question about him possibly becoming prime minister for the fourth time, he said: “Hopefully.”
PML-N leaders had earlier announced plans for Nawaz’s “heart-to-heart” — billed as a “never-before-seen candid conversation with the media”.
Yesterday, Maryam also posted several photographs of her sitting by his side during the interview.
Ahead of the broadcast, the PML-N’s official Twitter account posted a montage of Nawaz’s conversation, highlighting the former premier saying “absolutely not” to an offer of $5 billion, akin to what Imran Khan said in an interview with Axios.
Charge sheet against the institutions: Fawad Chaudhry
Responding to the press conference, PTI leader Fawad Chauhdry termed it a “charge sheet” against institutions, adding that it would be better for the SC registrar and Inter Services Public Relations to address Nawaz’s claims.
“An absconder was shown on all channels bashing the SC and the army. Is this the new order in Pakistan?” he questioned.