Facing ire from all quarters for his admission on the 2008 Mumbai terror attack, Pakistan’s ousted prime minister Nawaz Sharif today claimed that the media “grossly misinterpreted” his remarks. Sharif, for the first time, publicly acknowledged in an interview that militant organisations are active in Pakistan and questioned the policy to allow the “non-state actors” to cross the border and “kill” people in Mumbai. The former premier, who has been disqualified to hold public office for life by the Supreme Court in the Panama Papers case, said Pakistan has isolated itself. A spokesman for Sharif said: “At the outset, statement of Nawaz Sharif has been grossly misinterpreted by the Indian media. Unfortunately a section of Pakistani electronic and social media has intentionally or unintentionally not only validated but has lent credence to the malicious propaganda of Indian media without going through the full facts of the statement”.
“The PML-N would like to set the record straight on the interview of PML-N supreme leader Nawaz Sharif carried yesterday by Dawn,” he said in a statement issued here. The spokesman said the PML-N as the country’s premier popular national political party and its supreme leader (Nawaz Sharif) need no certificate from anybody on their commitment and capacity to preserve, protect and promote Pakistan’s national security. “After all, it was Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif who, resisting all pressures, took the most important and most difficult decision on national security in Pakistan’s history by making the country a nuclear power in May 1998,” he said.
In an an exclusive interview with Dawn on Friday, Sharif also criticised the apparent delay in the conclusion of the Mumbai attack trial. He is under attack from opponents as well as some of the estranged leaders from his Pakistan Muslims League-Nawaz (PML-N) party for allegedly supporting the Indian narrative on the Mumbai attack case and harming national interests. Leading opposition leader and cricketer-turned-politician Imran Khan said that Sharif was speaking the language of (Indian Prime Minister) Narendra Modi and cooperating against enemies of Pakistan to harm the country.
In the interview, Sharif said: “We have isolated ourselves. Despite giving sacrifices, our narrative is not being accepted. Afghanistan’s narrative is being accepted, but ours is not. We must look into it”. Without naming Mumbai attack mastermind Hafiz Saeed and Maulana Masood Azhar’s militant organisations — Jamaat-ud-Dawah and Jaish-e-Mohammad — operating in the country with impunity, Sharif said: “Militant organisations are active in Pakistan. “Call them non-state actors, should we allow them to cross the border and kill over 150 people in Mumbai? Explain it to me. Why can’t we complete the trial”.
Sharif, 68, was disqualified by the Supreme Court for not being “honest and righteous” as he failed to declare in 2013 a salary he got from the company of his son in the UAE. Some 166 people were killed in the attack carried out by 10 LeT men. Nine of the attackers were killed by police while lone survivor Ajmal Kasab was caught and hanged after handed down death sentence.