Pakistan’s former PM Sharif hints at political comeback

Deposed premier Nawaz Sharif called on opposition parties at a virtual conference in Islamabad on Sunday to formulate a plan of action and oust the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf government from power. (File/AFP)
Short Url
Updated 20 September 2020

Pakistan’s former PM Sharif hints at political comeback

  • In 2017, during Sharif was removed from power by the Pakistani Supreme Court amid revelations over his wealth
  • He was subsequently convicted of corruption

ISLAMABAD: Deposed premier Nawaz Sharif called on opposition parties at a virtual conference in Islamabad on Sunday to formulate a plan of action and oust the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf government from power.
He accused Prime Minister Imran Khan of being “inefficient” and also hinted at a political comeback.
“Our foremost priority should be removing this selected government. The opposition’s struggle is not against the prime minister but those who installed Imran Khan and manipulated elections to bring an inefficient man like him to power,” he said from London, where he is seeking medical treatment.
The three-time former premier and leader of the opposition Pakistan Muslim League (PML-N), Sharif flew to the UK on an air ambulance in November last year, a month after he was released on bail for a seven-year prison sentence.
“We should formulate a comprehensive strategy for supremacy of the constitution and respect for the vote,” he said, adding that the people’s mandate had been “hijacked” during the 2018 elections which put the PTI in power. Sharif alleged that it was “decided who would win before the vote even took place.”
Later, he accused state agencies, including the National Accountability Bureau and the Federal Investigation Agency, of “discriminatory actions” against the opposition.
In 2017, during his third term as prime minister, Sharif was removed from power by the Pakistani Supreme Court amid revelations over his wealth. He was subsequently convicted of corruption. Sharif has consistently denied the accusations.
“Whatever strategy you’ll devise, the PML-N will fully support it,” he said on Sunday.
Former president Asif Ali Zardari, leader of the opposition Pakistan People’s Party (PPP), who has been under investigation on charges of corruption and money laundering, also took part in the conference from Karachi.
Earlier, Zardari urged the conference, hosted by his son, PPP chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, to formulate a plan to help “strengthen democracy” in the country.
“We are not here to overthrow the government, but our aim should be a revival of the democracy,” he said.

Related


French police target extremist networks after teacher’s beheading

Updated 50 min 37 sec ago

French police target extremist networks after teacher’s beheading

  • President Emmanuel Macron: Extremists should not be allowed sleep soundly in our country
  • French teachers have long complained of tensions around religion and identity spilling over into the classroom

PARIS: French police on Monday launched a series of raids targeting extremist networks three days after the beheading of a history teacher who had shown his pupils a cartoon of the Prophet Muhammad.

The operation came a day after tens of thousands of people took part in rallies countrywide to honor history teacher Samuel Paty and defend freedom of expression.

Minister of the Interior Gerald Darmanin said “dozens” of individuals were being probed for suspected radicalization.

While they were “not necessarily linked” to Paty’s killing, the government aimed to send a message that there would be “not a minute’s respite for enemies of the Republic,” he added.

Darmanin said the government would also tighten the noose on NGOs with suspected links to extremist networks.

“Fear is about to change sides,” President Emmanuel Macron told a meeting of key ministers Sunday to discuss a response to the attack.

“Extremists should not be allowed sleep soundly in our country,” he said.

Paty, 47, was attacked on his way home from the junior high school where he taught in Conflans-Sainte-Honorine, 40 kilometers (25 miles) northwest of Paris.

A photo of the teacher and a message confessing to his murder was found on the mobile phone of his killer, an 18-year-old Chechen man Abdullakh Anzorov, who was shot dead by police.

The grisly killing has drawn parallels with the 2015 massacre at Charlie Hebdo satirical magazine, where 12 people, including cartoonists, were gunned down for publishing cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad.

Paty had shown his civics class one of the controversial cartoons.

According to his school, Paty had given Muslim children the option to leave the classroom before he showed the cartoon in a lesson on free speech, saying he did not want their feelings hurt.

The lesson sparked a furor nonetheless and Paty and his school received threats.

Eleven people are being held over his murder, including a known radical and the father of one of Paty’s pupils, who had launched an online campaign against the teacher.

Darmanin accused the two men of having issued a “fatwa” against Paty, using the term for an edict that was famously used to describe the 1989 death sentence handed down against writer Salman Rushdie by Iran’s Ayatollah Khomeini.

Anzorov’s family arrived in France from the predominantly Muslim Russian republic of Chechnya when he was six.

Locals in the Normandy town of Evreux where he lived described him as a loner who had become increasingly religious in recent years.

Police are trying to establish whether he acted alone.

Four members of his family are being held for questioning.

In scenes reminiscent of the aftermath of the Charlie Hebdo attack, when over a million people marched through Paris to defend press freedom, people again gathered at the central Place de la Republique on Sunday to express their horror over Paty’s death.

Some in the crowd chanted “I am Samuel,” echoing the 2015 “I am Charlie” rallying call for free speech.

French teachers have long complained of tensions around religion and identity spilling over into the classroom.

The government has vowed to step up security at schools when pupils return after half-term.

Far-right National Rally leader Marine Le Pen, who laid a wreath outside Paty’s school on Monday, called for “wartime legislation” to combat the terror threat.

Le Pen, who has announced she will make a third bid for the French presidency in 2022, called for an “immediate” moratorium on immigration and for all foreigners on terror watchlists to be deported.

Paty’s beheading was the second knife attack since a trial started last month over the Charlie Hebdo killings.

The magazine republished the cartoons in the run-up to the trial, and last month a young Pakistani man wounded two people with a meat cleaver outside the publication’s old office.