Pakistan army calls rumors of deal with ex-PM Sharif 'baseless speculation'

In this file photo, Pakistan's former prime minister Nawaz Sharif, center, arrives at his office in central London on July 6, 2018. (AFP/File)
In this file photo, Pakistan's former prime minister Nawaz Sharif, center, arrives at his office in central London on July 6, 2018. (AFP/File)
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Updated 06 January 2022
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Pakistan army calls rumors of deal with ex-PM Sharif 'baseless speculation'

Pakistan army calls rumors of deal with ex-PM Sharif 'baseless speculation'
  • Army spokesperson says “no problem” between civilian and military institutions in the country
  • Says army a subservient institution of the government which operated according to its directions

ISLAMABAD: A spokesperson for the Pakistan army on Wednesday rejected as “baseless speculation” rumors that the military was trying to negotiate a deal with former prime minister Nawaz Sharif to ensure his return to Pakistan. 
Sharif, 72, who heads the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz opposition party, has dominated Pakistani politics for three decades and thrice served as its premier. He was removed from office by a Supreme Court order in 2017 amid revelations over his personal wealth. In December 2018, he was convicted of corruption and sentenced to seven years in jail. He has consistently denied the accusations, saying they are politically motivated.
Sharif was granted medical bail to travel to London for treatment in 2019 and has since not returned and been declared an absconder by the courts.
Last month, rumors began circulating of a "secret deal" between the Pakistani government and military and Sharif to bring him back home.
Major General Iftikhar Babar, the Director-General of the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR), told reporters a deal with the former prime minister was “baseless speculation.”
“Whenever someone speaks about a deal, you should ask them who is behind this deal. Where is the evidence?” he said.  
Saying that he was “very clear” on the issue, the DG ISPR said it would be better for the country if people reserved speculating on the matter. 
When asked about the current state of civil-military relations in Pakistan, a country which has been ruled for almost half its history by the army, the spokesperson said there was “no problem.”
“The armed forces of Pakistan are a subservient institution of the government and we operate according to its directions,” he said. “That is it, there is nothing more to it.” 
“Please keep the establishment out of this,” he said, referring to journalists who alleged that the military was involved in politics. “There are a lot of important issues facing the country, discuss those. Keep us out of it.”
Last week State Minister for Information Broadcasting Farrukh Habib told Arab News there were no ongoing negotiations with Sharif. 
"Not at all," he said. "Law will take its course”.
"He is an absconder, declared by courts. Lifetime disqualified by Supreme Court."  
Ahsan Iqbal, secretary general of Sharif's PML-N party, also denied the rumors.
"There is no deal being negotiated with the government on the return of Nawaz Sharif," he said.