Tale of Nawaz Sharif’s friends and foes -by Sabir Shah

LAHORE: By forming an electoral alliance with Pir Pagara’s Pakistan Muslim League (Functional) and Ghulam Murtaza Jatoi’s National Peoples’ Party on Tuesday afternoon, the 63-year old PML-N Chief Nawaz Sharif has lived up to his decades-old tradition of making friends and political pacts, whenever the situation has demanded.
Like any other national or international politician, this two-time former Pakistani Premier has had many associates and adversaries during his eventful political career since 1979, when he was an active member of Air Marshal (retd) Asghar Khan’s Tehreek-e-Istiqlal, along with the likes of Khurshid Mahmud Kasuri, Aitzaz Ahsan, Sheikh Rashid Ahmad, Javed Hashmi, Gohar Ayub, late Nawab Akbar Bugti, Mushahid Hussain, Nisar Khoro, Manzoor Wattoo, Ahmed Raza Kasuri, Fakhar Imam and Abdia Hussain etc.
In 1979, Tehreek-e-Istiqlal Pakistan was in position to enter the power corridors by emerging triumphant in the polls announced by the then military ruler General Ziaul Haq, but the postponement of this ballot exercise and consequent house arrest of Asghar Khan for five years had made Nawaz Sharif join hands with General Zia in May 1980, courtesy the then Punjab Governor General Ghulam Jilani Khan.
It goes without saying that Sharif’s political career had actually begun during the reign of former Prime Minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, when the nationalization drive of the Pakistan Peoples’ Party leader had left many industrialists reeling under financial pressures.
And Sharif’s family was no exception after their main unit—the Ittefaq Foundry—-was nationalized by Bhutto in early 1970s. Friendship with General Zia reaped immediate dividends for Sharif and he was given a task in the Punjab Advisory Board under General Ghulam Jilani Khan in 1981.
In 1983, the young Sharif was elevated to the position of the provincial Excise and Taxation Minister and in 1985; he was appointed Punjab’s Chief Minister against the wishes of the then Prime Minister Muhammad Khan Junejo—who had instead wished to see Malik Allahyar on that seat.
Although the late Junejo was dismissed by General Zia in 1985, he had opted to retain Sharif as the Punjab Chief Minister. Sharif continued to sit in this office till Zia’s death and till the 1988 polls.
After General Zia’s death, Nawaz Sharif led the Zia loyalist “Fida Group” of the military dictator’s Pakistan Muslim League and the ousted Prime Minister Muhammad Khan Junejo spearheaded the “Junejo Group.”
This is when the late Pir Mardan Shah Pagara, father of the incumbent Pir Pagara, had also developed differences with Nawaz Sharif.
And why not— Junejo was Pir Mardan Shah Pagara’s trusted lieutenant after all.
However, both Nawaz Sharif and Junejo were part of the Islami Jamhoori Ittehad, which later proved to be an ISI-funded political alliance against Benazir Bhutto in 1988.
Benazir had returned home after a long exile on April 10, 1986 against the wishes of General Zia as the then Premier Junejo had played a pivotal role in her return.
During this time, Sharif had nourished close relations with the then ISI Director-General Lieutenant-General (retd) Hamid Gul, who was brainchild behind the formation of the Islami Jamhoori Ittehad.
This alliance was co-led by late Ghulam Mustafa Jatoi, who had later gone on to become the country’s caretaker Prime Minister in 1990.
Nawaz Sharif & General Pervez Musharraf on Kargil Front
The sitting National Peoples’ Party Chairman Ghulam Murtaza Jatoi, who has now become an ally of Nawaz Sharif, happens to be the eldest son of Ghulam Mustafa Jatoi.
In 1988, when late Benazir had assumed charge as country’s Premier, Sharif was elected as Punjab’s Chief Minister and the tiff between the two leaders kept on flashing headlines in national newspapers literally every day.
In early 1989, the PPP government in Islamabad had failed to oust Sharif through a no-confidence motion in the Punjab Assembly, after the sitting Chief Minister had managed to retain power by a vote of 152 to 106.
This actually was the advent of worst horse-trading in country’s history as assembly members were reportedly bought by both Benazir and Nawaz Sharif for their own ends.
As history tells, agencies had played a role in this political turmoil too and Nawaz Sharif surfaced as Benazir Bhutto’s most-feared political enemy for many years to come.
Nawaz Sharif became Pakistan’s Prime Minister in November 1990, while he was heading the Islami Jamhoori Ittehad. And now Benazir’s spouse Asif Zardari was also on the hit-list of Sharif and his confidants.
In 1991, Sharif had gone on to differ with the then Army Chief General Mirza Aslam Beg over country’s stance in the Gulf War.
Later, Sharif also took on another Army Chief, General Asif Nawaz, over the Sindh clean-up operation against MQM.
During his first term (1990-93), Sharif also could not stand the Altaf Hussain-led Muttahidda Qaumi Movement.
Although the MQM was part of Sharif’s government, it parted ways with the premier and his regime during the 1992 Army operation in Sindh.
In 1993, Sharif and the then President Ghulam Ishaq Khan emerged as enemies and on April 18, 1993, the elderly bureaucrat-turned-head of state had dissolved the National Assembly to send Sharif packing on corruption charges.
On May 26, 1993 Sharif returned to power after the Supreme Court had ruled that the Presidential Order was unconstitutional. And now, Nawaz Sharif was deemed to be friends with the then Supreme Court Chief Justice Nasim Hassan Shah.
Before this, the MQM Chief Altaf Hussain and Benazir Bhutto had regularly slated Sharif for giving preferential treatment to Punjab and Kashmir at the cost of Sindh’s well being.
Finally in July 1993, Chief of Army Staff General Abdul Waheed Kakar and the then Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee General Shamim Alam ended the constitutional crisis by forcing President Ishaq Khan and Nawaz Sharif to resign in quick succession.
Just days earlier, as archives reveal, Opposition leader Benazir had threatened to organize a long march against Sharif’s government.
During Benazir Bhutto’s second term (1993-96), Sharif was reported to have embraced the sitting Prime Minister’s estranged brother Mir Murtaza Bhutto and both had planned a train march against the ruling regime.
During Sharif’s second term (1997-99), MQM had again decided to join hands with him, but this alliance was short-lived and broke with the assassination of former Sindh Governor Hakim Said.
MQM had to go underground as Sharif assumed Karachi’s total control after alleging MQM of assassinating the renowned philanthropist Hakim Said.
Nawaz also had problems with the Justice Sajjad Hussain Shah-led Supreme Court during his second tenure and was issued a contempt notice by the Apex Court.
In November 1997, the Chief Justice was restrained by his colleagues from adjudicating in the case against the prime minister.
On November 28, 1997 Sharif appeared before the Supreme Court.
On November 30, 1997 the Supreme Court was attacked by Sharif’s loyalists like Hockey Olympian Akhtar Rasool and eminent TV Compare Tariq Aziz etc.
The Supreme Court then had asked the military to intervene and immediately struck down the 13th Amendment, thereby restoring the power of the President to dissolve the assemblies.
However, the military never came to the rescue of Chief Justice Sajjad Hussain Shah on President Farooq Leghari’s orders and Sharif forced the head of state to resign.
Wasim Sajjad was appointed acting President in Leghari’s place.
It will require as separate chapter to ink down the division among judges and the decisions of the Quetta and Peshawar High Courts here, but cutting the whole story short, Justice Shah was ultimately shown the door and Justice Saeeduzzaman Siddiqui was sworn in as country’s acting Chief Justice.
It is pertinent to note that on November 29, 2006 Sharif had issued a public apology for this act against former CJ Justice Shah.
In October 1998, Sharif was at daggers drawn with yet another Army Chief General Jehangir Karamat, who was appointed in January 1996 after the expiry of General Waheed Kakar’s three-year term.
General Karamat had actually vouched for having a National Security Council for devising policies to seek resolution of the civil-military problems, something which displeased Premier Sharif.
Although General Karamat’s term was due to end on January 9, 1999 he was sent home three months earlier and General Pervez Musharraf was handed over Pakistan Army’s command on strong recommendation of Shahbaz Sharif and Chaudhary Nisar Ali Khan.
While doing so, Sharif had actually ignored the seniorities of Lieutenant General Ali Kuli Khan or Lieutenant General Khalid Nawaz Khan on seniority basis.
It is also history that after Sharif had approved the appointment of General Musharraf as Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee, the then Chief of Naval Staff Admiral Fasih Bokhari had decided to hang his boots in protest.
By the way, Sharif and Admiral Fasih Bokhari were already at a distance from each other after the Kargil War.
Interestingly, till this point of time, the Chaudharies of Gujrat were among Nawaz Sharif’s most trusted comrades, and so were the likes of Ijazul Haq, Sheikh Rashid and Humayun Akhtar Khan.
And then we all know how General Musharraf had ousted and arrested Nawaz Sharif on October 12, 1999 thereby compelling him to go for a long off-shore exile.
Sharif returned back on November 25, 2007, just days after the promulgation of the infamous National Reconciliation Ordinance of October 2007 and after the August 23, 2007 Supreme Court order that he was free to return home.
And now, Messrs Imran Khan, Altaf Hussain, Chaudharies of Gujrat, Asfandyar Wali Khan and Asif Zardari happen to be the key political enemies of Nawaz Sharif as assemblies are due to complete their stipulated five-year tenure.
Nawaz Sharif, extremely critical of the government currently, was part of the ruling PPP government in 2008 and many of his men were even sworn in as federal ministers.
The ministerial oath from Sharif’s loyalists, as cruel history reveals, was administered by none other than Nawaz Sharif’s worst-ever enemy—-General Pervez Musharraf!!Yes, they did wear black arm bands—-only to serve as laughing stocks for their colleagues in the National Assembly.
Source: The News

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