Mian Nawaz Sharif That I Know
29 May 2016
By Saeed Qureshi
I know Mian Nawaz Sharif now for at least three decades. I met him for the
first time when I was a correspondent of the Independent English Daily ''The
Muslim'' published from Islamabad during the era of General Ziaul Haq. It was
in the Punjab House Rawalpindi where he invited the journalists for a press
conference. During that time he was the chief minister of Punjab. He was
robust and much younger. Perhaps to cow down the journalists from asking
pinching questions, all of sudden he harshly told a servant to lower or raise
the air-conditioner. The press conference was brief and it is hard for me to
recollect, in the hind sight, what he said or what questions the reporters
asked of him.
I met him for the second time at Lawrence College Ghora Gali Murree Hill,
where he had come to attend the annual college function. Late Muhammad Khan
Junejo then the prime minister of Pakistan was the chief guest of the event. I
was one of the journalists representing The Muslim newspaper. On the
conclusion of the ceremony I saw Nawaz Sharif walking towards the Parking
space. He was surrounded by a host of individuals. I went near to him and
requested him for an interview. The Muslim's Murree correspondent Salim
Shiwalvi was with me.
He readily agreed and asked us to meet him at the Punjab House at Murree after
some time. We reached the Punjab House in advance of Nawaz Sharif. During our
conversation he was extremely friendly and courteous and served us tea and
snacks. He politely complained that The Muslim was rather biased and
antagonistic towards Punjab government. I promised to him that I shall talk to
the editor. On the conclusion of the meeting he invited me to come to Lahore
to meet him.
It so happened that I mentioned my meeting with Nawaz Sharif and his friendly
treatment to some of my friends. I also told them that the chief minister had
invited me to come to Lahore and meet him. One of my friends My Bukhari
working as a Tehsildar at Rawalpindi wanted to be transferred to another
department for the reason best known to him. He requested me to go to Lahore
and talk to the chief minister.
I went to the Punjab Assembly building where I was told that the chief
minister was sitting in his chamber with his cabinet members and MPAs. The
waiting room was filled with visitors wanting to meet the chief minister. I
told his military secretary that I had come from Islamabad and wanted to meet
the chief minister. He looked at me with awe and by pointing at the people
sitting in the waiting room told me me point blank that it was impossible for
me to meet with the chief minister. I was rather dismayed and felt belittled.
In the meantime there was was a commotion in the corridor and the secretary
announced that the chief minister was leaving his chamber to go to his
residence signaling that even the feeble hope of meeting him was over. In a
state of panic of frustration coupled with a tinge of disappointment I rushed
down the stairs. I saw Mian Sahib moving ahead ensconced by a circle of his
ministers, provincial assembly members and guards. Without hesitation I rushed
towards him and from behind loudly called, Mian Sahib''. He looked back and at
once recognized me. He embraced me and took me a few yards way in isolation.
He called his military secretary and whispered in his ears that Mr.Qureshi
would come to my residence in the Model Town in the afternoon and that I
should be given the proper protocol.
Mian Sahib received me all by himself and we had a conversation that devolved
on the Punjab government's relations with the press generally and with daily
Muslim particularly. He asked as to what he could do for me. I requested him
about the transfer Mr. Bukhari and he nodded in affirmative. While we were in
conversation, Mr. Shahbaz Sharif also stepped in the same visitors' room and
casting a glance at us left the room. The next day I received a call from the
commissioner Rawalpindi who told me that in compliance with the orders of the
chief minister, Mr. Bukhari would be transferred to his requested place in few
days. That did happen.
In my estimation Mian Sahib adores and rewards his well wishers and supporters
and detests his opponents. That is a natural instinct which every human being
is endowed with. Those who stood by him during the difficult times were given
perks and privileges. Among the whole lot one is Siddique ul Farooq a reporter
in daily Pakistan Observer whom Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif appointed him as
the chairman or director general of the House Building Corporation. Indeed it
was a very privileged position for the reporter of a newspaper. After closure
of the Muslim I switched over to Pakistan Observer as editorial writer.
Editor Mushahid Hussain Syed had to leave the Muslim Newspaper under pressure
from Junejo government for his involvement in arranging clandestine interview
of Indian Journalist Kuldeep Nayyar with Pakistan's nuclear scientist Dr.
Qadeer Khan. When Nawaz Sharif was out of power they both became very close
friends. He was appointed as the information minister later and senator. Later
Mushahid Hussain joined Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain's Pakistan Muslim League and
thus their friendship ended.
Presently, Irfan Siddiqi
an Urdu columnist and Tariq Fatimi a retired diplomat, among others are the
advisors of Mian Nawaz Sharif. Both these gentlemen had been supporting Mian
Sahib in their media outlets. Mr. Siddiqui wrote columns and Tariq Fatimi was
occasionally a guest commentator on the TV channels. Tariq Fatimi too was an
ambassador and in that capacity he might have treated Mian Sahib very well.
There are many other individuals who are beneficiaries of Mian Sahib's
gratitude for their support during the time when he was in dire straits and
out of power.
Now a series of miracles happened in favor of Mian Nawaz Sharif. When his
naive bid to oust Pervez Musharraf failed, he was lodged in Adiala jail
Rawalpindi and the military court was on the verge of giving him death
sentence as was done in case of Z.A. Bhutto. But by a providential help, he
was rescued jointly by Saudi government, US President Bill Clinton and King
Fahd. As a result he went into exile for ten years and with commitment to not
take part in politics for 21 years. But the providence had other plans for
On the basis of NRO issued by Pervez Musharraf on 25 November 2007, amnesty
was granted to political exiles. Sharif returned to Pakistan on November 27,
2007. On the contrary his arch rival Pervez Musharraf went into exile in
London on November 2008
The second miracle was winning the general elections held in May 2013; Mr.
Sharif's Pakistan Muslim League (N) won 126 seats in the Assembly. The 18th
Amendment Bill passed by the Parliament removed the bar on third term for a
Now the situation was drastically reversed. While Pervez Musharraf went into
exile, Mian Sahib became the prime minister of Pakistan. In a similar fashion
as Mian Sahib was allowed to proceed abroad, Musharraf too was allowed to go
abroad by the Supreme Court on 18th March 2016.
Notwithstanding Mian Sahib's confrontation with both Judiciary and military of
Pakistan which resulted in his ouster from power and exile from Pakistan from
2000 to 2007, his services to the nations have been remarkable. Although
Zulfikar Ali Bhutto initiated and developed nuclear technology for Pakistan,
it was during the second term of Nawaz Sharif as prime minister that in
response to Indian nuclear tests, Pakistan successfully carried out six
nuclear tests on 28 May 1998.
During his second term as Prime minister, Pakistan's largest ever first major
motorway known as M2 Motorway (also called as Autobahn of South Asia) was
completed in November 1997. The M-2 is a motorway in the Punjab province of
Pakistan. It is 367 km long and connects Lahore with Islamabad. The comfort
and unhindered traveling facility which this motorway has provided to the
commuters is indescribable. Mian Sahib widened the road between Murree and
Rawalpindi facilitating the arduous traffic between the two cities.
The Lahore Metro Bus Service was inaugurated in February 2013. The Islamabad
Rawalpindi Metro Bus service was inaugurated in June 2015. These services have
enormously facilitated the movement of the people including the employees in
the respective cities.
It was during his previous term that Pakistan improved its relations with
Muslim world, Turkey, and Europe and even India. The then Indian prime
minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee visited Pakistan and signed the ''Lahore
Declaration'' on 21 February 1999. But the good will generated by Lahore
Declaration was watered down because of the Kargil war (May –July 1999)
started by Pervez Musharraf.
The China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) would be a land mark achievement
whose credit goes to Nawaz Sharif. It is a floodgate that would transform the
complexion and destiny of Pakistan economically, industrially, socially and in
many other ways. This mega project alone would put Pakistan on the road to
progress and prosperity for all-time to come.
Moreover it would ensure the territorial integrity of Pakistan particularly
from India, as China would not allow her assets to be attacked and destroyed
by forces inimical to Pakistan. This watershed project would rapidly be
expanded to upgrade 's infrastructure, as well as deepen and broaden economic
links between Pakistan, the People's Republic of China as well as the Central
No matter what his critics say but like all human beings Nawaz Sharif has
drawbacks too. No one can be an ideal person. His approach in politics has
been aggressive and colliding even with judiciary and armed forces perceiving
these institutions as threat to his stay in power. And for that reason he
suffered a lot in the form of incarceration and a threat to his life like Z.A.
Bhutto and consequent exile from Pakistan. He had miraculous escape from a
dreadful happening thanks to the intervention of his friends, supporters and
intermediaries. He remained in exile for seven years.
Nawaz Sharif is in the habit of listening to and believing the people with
vested interests. He cannot shun the rumours, conspiracy theories and the
gossip conveyed to him by his visitors and friends. He has a tendency to
believe that someone somewhere was conspiring against him to remove him from
power. That is the great drawback in his outlook and personality for which he
His second weakness is a glaring lack of articulation particularly in English
as the politicians generally possess this talent or skill. We saw him holding
a piece of paper to be read before president Obama as a student reads before
his teacher. That is why people like Tariq Fatimi are in his retina of
associates writing and guiding and representing him on international forums. A
politcian must have the insight, knowledge and studied outlook to articulate
and convince others of his opinion on contentious issues. In comparison Mian
Sahib is a silent worker and prefers to avoid the international forums and
parleys. Nawaz Sharif is a man of action and few words. He doesn't have the
art of waxing eloquence.
With elderly advisors and foot soldiers like Sartaj Aziz and Tariq Fatimi he
is comfortable as they obey him docilely. These guys are spent forces yet
basking in the international galore and limelight in their advanced stages of
life. While having important ministries such as Foreign Affairs and Defense
with him, Mian Sahib has the option to dictate to these yeomen without any
opposition. These guys act as simply dummies and mouthpieces of the prime
minister. Lately Tariq Fatimi has been sent to attend the Nuclear Security
Summit sponsored by president Obama.
He and his brother Shahbaz Sharif, the current chief minister of Punjab, have
been accused of amassing huge sums of money in several ways. The foreign
exchange sent by expatriate Pakistan to the tunes of millions of dollars
during the nuclear tests is still unaccounted. But I personally disagree with
that accusation. The Sharif family has been rich since 1947 and it is their
right to earn and increase their wealth through legitimate means in full
The writer is a senior journalist, former editor of Diplomatic Times and a
former diplomat. This and other articles by the
writer can also be read at his blog www.uprightopinion.com.