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Roving Periscope: Against Pak Army—Imran, and Nawaz are on the same page!

Roving Periscope: Against Pak Army—Imran, and Nawaz are on the same page!

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Virendra Pandit

New Delhi: For the first time, and by a strange coincidence, two arch-political enemies—former Prime Ministers Mohammed Nawaz Sharif and Imran Ahmed Khan Niazi—find themselves on the same page, and against the once-powerful Pakistani Army who had foisted them in Islamabad and then orchestrated their ouster.

In the space of a year or so, they have exposed the Pakistani Army’s repeated intervention in politics. While Imran is facing over 150 court cases and has been in jail since August 2023 for “exposing” the dirty picture of the Pakistan Army, Nawaz Sharif has also revealed how he was ousted by the military’s machinations, led by then Army chief General Pervez Musharraf, who launched the Kargil War to sabotage Islamabad’s improving relations with New Delhi—something that dragged Pakistani economy down in the gutters since 1999.

These revelations may yet put Pakistan on the road to a true democracy, and weaken the stranglehold of the Army that has dominated the Islamic nation since its birth in 1947.

While Imran Khan and his political outfit Pakistan Threek-e-Insaaf (PTI)’s ‘struggles’ against the military boots are recent, Nawaz has reopened the seemingly closed chapter of the Kargil War which Islamabad tried to push under the carpet because of its fourth consecutive defeat against India since 1947.

The two former PMs, having suffered because of their former mentors’ torments, may now have realized their follies. To possibly bury the hatchet, Nawaz sounded less bitter and even ‘conciliatory’ in his first speech after returning as President of his Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz) on Tuesday.

As he addressed his party leadership, he admitted that Pakistan “violated” a 1999 agreement with India, which he signed with his then-Indian counterpart Atal Behari Vajpayee, which could have ensured peace and stability in the region. Without naming his Army chief, General Pervez Musharraf, he referred to the Pakistani “intrusion” in Kargil that led to the fourth war against India.

“On May 28, 1998, Pakistan carried out five nuclear tests. After that Vajpayee Saheb came here and agreed with us. But we violated that agreement…it was our fault,” Sharif told a meeting of the PML-N general council that elected him president of the ruling party six years.

At their Summit, the two PMs, after Vajpayee’s historic visit, signed the Lahore Declaration on February 21, 1999, envisaging peace and stability. However, only a few months later Pakistani intrusion in Kargil, in Jammu and Kashmir, ruined the agreement.

Nawaz also revealed how he was removed from the PM’s office in 2017 by then Chief Justice of Pakistan Saqib Nisar. He said all cases against him were ‘false’ while the cases against Imran Khan, registered in 2023, were ‘true.’

Then he cited the role of former ISI chief Gen Zahirul Islam in toppling his government in 2017 to bring Imran Khan into power and asked his successor
(Imran Khan) to deny if was not launched by the ISI.

Appearing a bit conciliatory, Sharif said: “I ask Imran not to blame us (that Nawaz was also patronized by the army) and tell us whether General Islam had talked about bringing the PTI into power.”

Of late, a nearly bankrupt Pakistan has been sending subtle signals to India to restart bilateral trade and improve relations. After returning to head his PML(N), Nawaz is likely to replace his younger brother Shehbaz Sharif as the next PM.

On Tuesday, he also praised Shehbaz for standing by his side through thick and thin. “Efforts were made to create differences between us but Shehbaz remained loyal to me. Even Shehbaz was asked to become PM in the past and leave me but he declined,” he said.

Politics in the Indian subcontinent may be turning a full circle. In 2014, the then PM Nawaz Sharif participated in the inauguration of the Narendra Modi era in New Delhi. PM Modi, in all likelihood, will return to power in June.

Will Nawaz, once again, be Modi’s guest?


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