Nawaz Sharif says ‘no wish to take revenge’, seeks support of all ‘constitutional institutions’
Lahore, OCT 21: Nawaz Sharif says ‘no wish to take revenge’, seeks support of all ‘constitutional institutions’. Deposed prime minister and proclaimed offender Nawaz Sharif, who returned to Pakistan today after spending four years in self-imposed exile, is addressing a massive crowd of supporters at the Minar-i-Pakistan in Lahore.
The PML-N supremo began his much awaited speech with a verse.
“I am meeting you today after several years, but my relationship of love with you is the same. There is no difference in this relationship,” he said. “The love I am seeing in your eyes, I am proud of it.”
Nawaz said he never betrayed his supporter nor did he shy from any kind of sacrifice. He recalled how fake cases were framed against him and his party leaders. “But no one abandoned the PML-N flag.”
“Tell me, who are they who separate Nawaz Sharif from his nation? We are those who built Pakistan. We made Pakistan an atomic power. We brought an end to loadshedding,” he said, highlighting how he produced and provided cheap electricity to the people.
Responding to the crowd cheering, Nawaz said: “I know you want to hear that I love you too.”
“Today, trust me, after seeing your love, I have forgotten all my grief and pain. I don’t even want to remember. But, there are some wounds that can’t ever heal.”
Nawaz, in a quivering voice, said how he had lost his mother and wife “to politics”. He recalled how he couldn’t pay the final respects to his mother, father or wife.
Earlier upon arrival, a visibly emotional PML-N supremo embraced his daughter Maryam and greeted other party leaders on stage. Before his address, the national anthem was played followed by recitation of the Holy Quran.
Meanwhile, PML-N’s Khawaja Saad Rafique read out his party’s resolution condemning Israeli atrocities on Palestinians.
The elder Sharif arrived in Islamabad in the afternoon, where he completed legal and biometric formalities. His chartered plane landed in the capital city with more than 150 people from his party and media organisations, the PML-N said.
Observers say the reason Nawaz arrived in Islamabad first was that his touchdown in the capital was necessary to make bail, earlier granted by the Islamabad High Court on Oct 19.
After completing the formalities, Nawaz left for Lahore and reached his hometown a little after 5pm. He was welcomed by his younger brother Shehbaz Sharif and other party leaders at the airport.
He then offered Maghreb prayers at the Lahore Fort with Shehbaz, Ishaq Dar and other party leaders before making his way to the Minar-i-Pakistan.
Earlier, a visibly emotional Maryam Nawaz mobilised supporters at Minar-i-Pakistan. Her namesake, Marriyum Aurangzeb, could also be seen wiping tears from her face.
Addressing the rally, Maryam said people from across Pakistan had gathered at Minar-i-Pakistan today. “I will not deliver a speech, only Nawaz Sharif will speak to you today.”
“I thought Minar-i-Pakistan was a huge venue, but I didn’t know it would turn out to be small for PML-N supporters,” she said, urging supporters to give Nawaz a historic welcome when he reached Minar-i-Pakistan.
Alongside Maryam, former Punjab chief minister Hamza Shehbaz described how streets in Lahore were packed with supporters. “This is the Pakistan of 2018,” he said.
Rallies from various regions of the country poured into Lahore today, a party spokesperson said. Heavy police contingents were deployed to guard the rally’s venue, said police officer Ali Nasir Rizvi.
Nawaz speaks to media at Dubai airport
“I’m going back to Pakistan after four years today,” Nawaz said today while speaking to the media at Dubai Airport. “When I was leaving Pakistan and going abroad I had no feeling of happiness but today I am happy.”
The ousted premier said he wished the country was in a better state than it was in 2017.
“I get very worried and disappointed seeing the situation in the country. The country that had to move forward is going backwards now economically and unity-wise.”
Terming the situation as “worrisome”, Nawaz said there was still hope and “we should not let it slip from our hands as we are capable of fixing it because we spoilt it ourselves”.
He said the country had to get back on its feet as “nobody else will lift us up”.
“When I remember Pakistan back then, I get hurt, we had said goodbye to the International Monetary Fund, electricity was cheap, the rupee was stable, there was employment, roti cost Rs4, a poor family’s child went to school and medicines were also cheap.”
Nawaz said only the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) can decide when polls will be held, adding that it was the only competent authority and a fair election commission.
“Whatever date the ECP announces, everyone will [abide by it]. My priority is whatever the ECP says. Pakistan has a fair ECP today and I feel it will make the best decision with regards to the election.
“The process takes time. Some work is left. A census has been done. Delimitations have to be carried out. ECP has an eye on all these things.
“We are completely ready for elections,” he added.
Lamenting the treatment meted out to him in the past, Nawaz said he was the person who had gone through 150 court hearings. “Not just me but also my daughter. She even got a clean chit. She had to get it. She didn’t have a position during my government, not even an office.”
He said fake cases were not just filed against his family including former prime minister and his brother Shehbaz Sharif but also ex-interior minister Rana Sanaullah Khan and PML-N leader Hanif Abbasi.
“I even said before leaving that I leave everything to Allah and I still continue doing that.”
Nawaz smirked and said “We are the May 28 ones” when asked about the May 9 violence allegedly carried out by the PTI.
Pakistan conducted nuclear tests on May 28, 1998, under the leadership of the then prime minister Nawaz.
PTI laments ‘two Constitutions’
Reacting to Nawaz’s arrival, PTI Secretary General Omar Ayub Khan called out the “two Constitutions”, comparing the manner in which Nawaz’s biometrics were verified to that of in which PTI Chairman Imran Khan were verified in the past.
He said, “This picture is not only of Nawaz Sharif’s biometrics, but of the funeral of Pakistan’s judicial system. The whole world has seen the coercion and treatment meted out to Imran Khan for the same biometrics.”
PTI leader Khurram Sher Zaman also criticised the judiciary for “facilitating the return of a convicted figure”.
In a post on X, he said, “By facilitating the return of a convicted fugitive, the justice system has given a slap to the faces of the people of Pakistan and sadly, they have no hesitations or shame in doing it.”
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