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Opinion » Comment

Posted at: Jul 29, 2017, 12:37 AM; last updated: Jul 29, 2017, 12:37 AM (IST)

The rise and fall of Nawaz Sharif

After the five-judge Bench declared Nawaz Sharif disqualified for office, forcing the Pakistan Prime Minister to step down, it might seem an end of the Sharif era in Pakistan. However, one cannot dismiss the wily political strategist who would have become the first Pakistan Prime Minister to complete a full five-year term.

RK Kaushik

THE judgement announced by a five-judge bench, headed by Chief Justice Azmat Saeed Khosa, declared Mohammad Nawaz Sharif, the Prime Minister of Pakistan as disqualified (NAAHEL) for the post of the Prime Minister of Pakistan. The order of the bench, which consisted of Justice Gulzar Ahmed, Justice Ejaz Afzal Khan, Justice Sheikh Azmat Saeed and Justice Ajazul Ahsan ended the era of the Sharif family in Pakistan politics.  The bench not only disqualified the Prime Minister, but also asked the NAB (National Accountability Bureau)   to decide the serious charges of corruption and money laundering against Nawaz Sharif, his brother Shahbaz Sharif, the Chief Minister of Punjab Province of Pakistan, Ishaq Dar  Finance Minister, Nawaz's two sons and daughter Maryam Safder in six months.

Nawaz Sharif was born on September 25, 1949, in the house of Mohammad Sharif and lived in the Akbari  area of Lahore. His family was  of Kashmiri Brahmin origin and had migrated from Anantnag to Amritsar in 1870.  His grandfather Ramzan Sharif started living in village Jati Umra  in Tarntaran district of Punjab in India. Nawaz Sharif studied in Saint Anthony's Convent School in Lahore and he did his Masters in economics from Government College, Lahore, in 1971— the year in which he  married Kulsoom Nawaz. 

Nawaz Sharif joined Tehriq-e-Istaq lal founded by Air Marshal Asghar Khan in 1972 and later joined the Muslim League in 1977. He was introduced to General Zia-ul Haq by the then Governor of Punjab Lt Gen Ghulam Jilani Khan, who was in a way his mentor and godfather in politics. Nawaz was inducted into the Punjab cabinet by Gen Jilani  as the Finance Minister in May, 1982. He became the Chief Minister of Punjab in the partyless election held under the dictatorship of General Zia-ul Haq in 1985. Nawaz Sharif, after the death of General Zia-ul Haq on August 17, 1988 formed the Muslim League and led an  alliance  of opposition parties and was defeated at the hands of Benazir Bhutto of the Pakistan Peoples Party in November, 1988. The government of  Benazir Bhutto was  toppled by President  Ghulam Ishaq Khan on August 3, 1990, which led to the Pakistan Muslim League of Nawaz Sharif winning in elections  held in November, 1990. That was the time when his party had winning leaders like Shujjat Hussain,  Parvez Illahi, Hamid Nasir Chatha. Nawaz Sharif came into power in November 1990 and was asked to resign in June 1993. He again became the Prime Minister in January 1997, after toppling Benazir Bhutto's government. He soon had a confronation with the then Army Chief General Jahagir Karamat, who was forced to resign. In his place, he choose CORP Commander Mangla Lt Gen Pervez Musharraf.  Nawaz Sharif  very stoically and confidently did atomic explosions in May, 1998. Later, he started  mending  fences with India which led to his first meeting with  the then Prime Minister, Atal Bihari Vajpayee on  the sidelines of the  UN session in New York in September,  1998. This led to the starting of the Lahore- Delhi Bus service and also the visit by   Prime Minister, Atal Bihari Vajpayee to Lahore in February, 1999. The Kargil War started by Musharraf put a damp squib on the bilateral ties and the relations became sour in May-June 1999. The ending of the war led to anger, nay venom, against Nawaz Sharif and he was arrested on October 12, 1999, in a  bloodless coup after a failed hijacking, for which he was tried and sentenced to death. Unlike Bhutto, he was a dexterous politician and gave it in writing to Musharraf that he would not take part in politics for 10 years and would also not come back to Pakistan for a decade. The pressure put by the then US President Bill Clinton worked and his life was saved.   He left for Saudi Arabia in November 2000. Pakistan was ruled by Musharraf through a martial law  for the next seven years.   It was a period  of peace and turmoil. Musharraf faced a vaulting agitation by lawyers throughout the country when he removed Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhary in the first week of March, 2007. Musharraf had to announce the election for February 2008 and allowed Benazir Bhutto and Nawaz Sharif to come back to Pakistan from Dubai and Saudi Arabia in November-December 2007. 

Benazir was assassinated on December 27, 2007 in Rawalpindi and Pakistan Peoples Party came to power in February 2008. Asif Ali Zardari became President and Yousuf Raza Gilani became the Prime Minister. They faced problems and agitations from Nawaz Sharif, who was ruling Punjab and was a force to reckon with. In the  elections held in May, 2013, Nawaz Sharif came back to power with a two-third majority and winning 90 per cent seats in Punjab for the National Assembly. But then his brother Shahbaz Sharif was the Chief Minister of Punjab for the fourth term.  It is pertinent to mention that Nawaz Sharif annoyed the establishment (Army and ISI) and they were looking for a chance to hit him. The cricketer-turned-politician  Imran Khan bitterly opposed Nawaz Sharif with various allegations. Finally, the Panamagate stuck in April 2016, leading to the end of era for Nawaz Sharif  on July 28, 2017.  It would not be out of tune to mention the Quran, which says, “God has his own ways of delivering justice and God gives severe  punishments.”

The writer is an IAS officer of the Punjab Cadre

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