Nawaz Sharif stands beside his daughter Maryam Nawaz as he waves to his supporters gathered at a park during an event held to welcome him in Lahore on Saturday. AFP
Former prime minister and Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) supremo Nawaz Sharif on Saturday ruled out taking revenge from his political opponents for "never-healing wounds," saying his party's aim is to bring Pakistan out of the ongoing crises.
"My relationship with the nation is the same as it was when I had left the country. I am proud to see loyalty in the eyes of people,” he told a big rally held at the Minar-e-Pakistan ground in Lahore.
“I want to serve this nation," said the 73-year-old veteran politician in his address. "My only desire is to see this nation prosper," he said after he compared today's essential goods prices with his last tenure before he was ousted in 2017. He promised to work toward economic recovery, without laying any plans, saying: "We will control inflation."
Earlier, he landed in a chartered plane at Islamabad airport where he signed and filed appeals against the convictions he was jailed for before he left the country in 2019.
Sharif said that he served the country with loyalty whenever he was given a chance, he resolved the issues of Pakistan and never hesitated from any sacrifice. He regretted the "false” cases against him, Shahbaz Sharif, Maryam Nawaz and other PML-N leaders.
A visibly emotional Nawaz embraced his daughter Maryam and greeted other party leaders on stage.
The PML-N supremo recalled making Pakistan a nuclear power and "ending” loadshedding in the country during his time as the prime minister. "Do you remember those 18 hours of load shedding? Who ended it?" he asked, noting that it was under his leadership that the power issue was resolved.
The former premier stressed that "some wounds never heal," saying that the wealth of this life may go away and come back to you with the blessings of God but the loved ones who pass away never come back," he said while referring to the passing away of his mother and wife when he was facing the legal battles.
He said that these women won’t be there to receive him at his home like they did in the past. He then recalled the time when he was given the news of his wife’s passing.
Sharing his ordeal in Rawalpindi’s Adiala Jail, the three-time former premier that Maryam lost consciousness when he told his daughter about the death of her mother.
Talking about Pakistan’s nuclear tests on May 28, 1998, the former premier said that then-US president Bill Clinton and other world leaders had been pressuring and refraining him from the tests and offered $5 billion in this regard but he refused the offer and made Pakistan a nuclear state.
Without taking the name of deposed premier Imran Khan, the elder Sharif asked: "Could he have dared to refuse the US president?" When he once mentioned Imran Khan’s name, he repeatedly stated that he did not want to do that.
"Clinton had offered $5 billion to me in 1999 for not carrying out nuclear tests, but my conscience did not allow me to accept the thing which was against the interest of Pakistan,” Sharif added. He maintained that they conducted the nuclear tests and gave India a befitting response.
"Are the PML-N governments toppled down and rulings issued against us for refusing the US and taking the stance for the interest of Pakistan?,” said the PML-N supremo.
Nawaz Sharif said no one in Pakistan would be unemployed if his party was allowed to continue the "1990s momentum." "I was ousted because I didn't allow the dollar rate to fluctuate," he said.
He lamented that due to the ongoing economic crisis, "one has to decide whether to pay electricity bills or take care of one's children." "People are committing suicide, and borrowing money to pay the bills."
"[During my tenure the poor had enough financial resources to at least to seek healthcare and get himself treated." "This didn't start in Shahbaz Sharif's tenure as prime minister. It started way before that. The dollar was out of control, bills were going up, and rates of daily utilities and petrol were also surging. During our tenure sugar was 50 rupees per kilogramme, today it is at 250. This is why you ousted Nawaz Sharif?" the former prime minister said while criticising his disqualification in 2017.
"Pakistan was on its way to becoming an Asian tiger, we were preparing to ensure Pakistan's inclusion in the G20. A lot of countries which were trailing us are now leading us. We have been left behind. Not only do we have to catch up with those countries but in fact have to surpass them."
Nawaz Sharif added that he was addressing any political gathering after a gap of six years as he faced cases for two years. "I have come today with electricity bills from May 2016 during my tenure as PM when there were sit-ins but we were busy doing our work. You know who was orchestrating the sit-ins? But we ensured the provision of electricity to your homes despite the sit-ins," Sharif said while commenting on sit-ins during his tenure.
Earlier, Shahbaz Sharif acknowledged the profound significance of the occasion, as people from all walks of life travelled thousands of miles to be part of this historic rally. He commended the unwavering dedication of workers and the overwhelming turnout of the masses.
"Nawaz Sharif is not just a name; he is the embodiment of struggle, passion, and unwavering dedication to this nation," declared Shahbaz, resonating the sentiments of the gathered multitude.
Highlighting the historic nature of this rally, Shahbaz noted, "In the span of 76 years, there has not been a gathering of such magnitude at Minar Pakistan."
Expressing his gratitude, Shahbaz extended a warm welcome to his brother, Mian Nawaz Sharif, amidst thunderous applause and enthusiasm from the audience.
Nawaz Sharif is currently on bail appealing several convictions for corruption in an attempt to clear his name ahead of elections scheduled in February, with his primary opponent Imran Khan in jail.
Intense speculation and public debate has hit the political landscape about the possible return of deposed prime minister Nawaz Sharif to Pakistan from London, where he has been for more than two years.
Giving out the verdict, the court told the chairman of Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan (SECP) to sell Sharif’s shares. Authorities may proceed with any auction that they do not receive an objection against.
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During the visit, Sheikh Khaled was accompanied by His Excellency Dr. Mugheer Khamis Al Khaili, Chairman of the Department of Community Development; and His Excellency Saif Saeed Ghobash, Secretary General of the Abu Dhabi Executive Council.
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