Haroon Rasheed, a senior Pakistani journalist, has revealed that there are several actors working to help Nawaz Sharif out to urge the armed forces to revolt against the high command. The journalist also revealed that the former Army Chief and head of the Saudi-led military coalition, General Raheel Sharif, is also lobbying for the Sharif family.
Rasheed is of the view that Indian media and those critical of Pakistan’s security policy are with Nawaz Sharif. “You see what is going on the Indian TV channels. This is quite clear as to who is supporting whom,” he added.
Notably, on 27 November 2013, after weeks of intense speculation in the media, then Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif finally made the selection of two senior army officers as Chief of Army Staff and Chairman Joint Chief of Staff Committee.
Career infantry officer Lt Gen Raheel Sharif was appointed as the new COAS, while Lt Gen Rashad Mahmood was appointed the CJCSC.
Raheel Sharif holds the Hilal-i-Imtiaz military award and is the younger brother of late Major Shabbir Sharif, who received the Nishan-i-Haider for his bravery in the 1971 war.
Maryam’s links with the Saudi royal family
Earlier, Federal Minister for Railways Sheikh Rasheed revealed that Maryam Nawaz has deep contacts within the Saudi royal family. Rasheed writes in his latest book that Maryam Nawaz has established links with the royal family.
“She has friends in the royal family and can exercise influence,” he added. Sheikh Rasheed also pointed out that Shehbaz Sharif, younger brother of Nawaz, was reluctant to leave for Saudi Arabia. “Shehbaz Sharif did not want to leave for the Kingdom. However, he was persuaded and then forced to leave the country along with his elder brother,” he added.
Shehbaz was the army’s favorite man?
Politicians, insiders of Pakistani politics, and many in the media have always been aware that Musharraf and his government advisers were, at different points in time, in touch with Shehbaz Sharif, the younger brother of Nawaz Sharif. Many close to Musharraf always thought of Shehbaz Sharif as a rational, sane, and nationalist politician.
However, the same courtesy was not extended to Nawaz. Political rumor mills had started churning after the younger Sharif was allowed to shift to London in 2004-5. Sources reveal that late Brigadier Niaz was the go-between in the Shehbaz-Musharraf relationship. Ironically, Shahbaz lived and conducted all his meetings in the same MayFair Apartments opposite Hyde Park London, which have been the center of attention in the Supreme Court of Pakistan more recently.
Niaz enjoyed huge respect in the military. He was one of the officers who had refused to fire on crowds of protesters in Lahore in 1977 when former president General Zia had imposed martial law. Zia had then ordered the court-martial of the senior officers who had refused to fire on civilian protesters and Brigadier Niaz and Brigadier Ashraf were amongst the senior officers sacked from Pakistan Army for subordination.
Military dictator General (retd) Pervez Musharraf seized control from Nawaz in a bloodless coup in 1999. Nawaz was imprisoned on corruption and other charges and then entered into an understanding with the government to go abroad for 10 years in return for having the charges against him dropped. He lived in exile in Saudi Arabia for seven years.
He had approached the top court seeking to return in the late 2000s, arguing that he and his family were unconstitutionally forced from the country. On August 23, 2007, Pakistan’s Supreme Court ruled that former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, who was sent into exile in 2000 following a military coup, could return to the country. “They [the Sharif brothers] have an inalienable right to come back and stay in the country,” then chief justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry had ruled.