LONDON, Sept 8: Admitting perhaps for the first time on record that there was a signed agreement between him and the Saudi Kingdom, former prime minister Nawaz Sharif has claimed that he was verbally assured by the intermediaries that the exile condition would apply for only five years.
Speaking at a hurriedly called press conference here on Saturday, Mr Sharif reiterated his determination to return home on September 10 and said he had written a letter to King Abdullah explaining to him why he was going back home after remaining in exile for seven years.
Now that Saad Hariri has made public the agreement in question, he said, he expected him to also disclose the verbal assurance he had given to him (Nawaz) while he was still in jail and had objected to the condition of 10 years.
“When I objected to the 10-year condition Mr Hariri went back to the then Prince Abdullah and returned after five days with the message that even the prince thought 10 years was a long time but had advised me to sign the papers with the promise to get the period reduced afterwards,” Nawaz elaborated.
He said he had a series of meetings with Saad Hariri in the last few days and in these meetings he reminded him of his verbal assurance on which “Mr Hariri apologised to me for not doing the needful in time because as he said in the meanwhile 9/11 had happened and also that he had had to suffer the tragedy of his father’s assassination.”
Nawaz said he was not breaking any promises and reminded President Musharraf that it was he who had violated his oath of office when he ousted a duly elected government.
“It does not behove a man who is in the habit of breaking promises to ask others to honour theirs,” Nawaz added.
He said Musharraf was afraid of his return and that was why he had mounted strenuous efforts to stop him from returning home and was even trying to involve foreign governments for the purpose.
He said he was surprised and saddened by Musharraf’s attempts to involve the Saudi government in an internal matter of Pakistan.
Answering a question, he said former US president Bill Clinton was not involved in his release and exile.
To another question, he said he hoped there would not be any violence in the country on his return home, ‘‘in case of bloodshed I will hold Musharraf responsible.”
In this context he recalled the May 12 carnage in Karachi and said Musharraf should not try to repeat ‘such an abhorrent act’ on September 10 in Islamabad.
He said he was not scared by the threats of arrest and asked government officials not to obey the orders of what he called a military dictator in this regard.
He said he had no personal agenda, but was returning home to restore democracy and work for a truly free media and an independent judiciary.
When asked which airline had he decided to take, he said there were 3 or 4 options.
He advised media personnel accompanying him to reach Heathrow by 10 am on Sunday. “We will also send e-mails to all of you tomorrow morning,” he said.