Nawaz Sharif is once again in hot waters. In line with the accusations made by former Foreign Office spokesperson Tasnim Aslam, another senior diplomat and former High Commissioner to India, Abdul Basit has alleged that the former prime minister’s business interests had led to some actions which were against the national and state interests of Pakistan.
Ms. Tasneem Aslam has said that former Nawaz Sharif, during his tenure as PM, had barred the FO from commenting against Indian atrocities in held Kashmir and its spy Commander Kulbhushan Jadhav. “Nawaz Sharif did not want to say anything against India and Jadhav through the Foreign Office,” she said during an interview with a YouTube channel of journalist Essa Naqvi. When asked if Sharif’s instruction benefited the country, she said: “It did not benefit the country but I do not know whether it benefited his [Nawaz’s] own interests or not.”
Aslam worked as Foreign Office spokesperson twice — first from 2005 to 2007 during the regime of President Pervez Musharraf and then during the last Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) government between 2013 and 2017.
Aslam also said that Sharif had business interests in India and he did not meet leaders of India-held Kashmir’s political party Hurriyat Conferences when he visited India as the prime minister. “Usually, every prime minister of Pakistan meets Hurriyat leaders but Nawaz Sharif did not meet them when he visited India.”
Ratifying the allegations made by Aslam, Basit said that Nawaz Sharif wanted to develop a good relationship with India by striking a ‘private equation’ with Indian premier Narendra Modi but this approach, according to him, was flawed.
As far as the issue of Jammu and Kashmir was concerned, Basit said that he had openly expressed his reservations on Nawaz Sharif’s Kashmir policy. He said it was a stated policy of Pakistan to remain in contact with the Hurriyat leadership and as High Commissioner to India, Basit said he had pursued the same policy.
“Though I was conveyed verbal directions many a time, I had always insisted on written directions from the prime minister,” he asserted. Commenting on the business interests of Nawaz Sharif with India, Abdul Basit said that the Sharif family had sugar mills in Pakistan.
“I remember that Nawaz Sharif’s nephew, Salman Shehbaz, used to call me on phone at least once a month for issuance of visas to certain Indian nationals. I used to ask Salman Shehbaz to follow the SoPs (Standard Operating Procedures) for the issuance of visas to foreigners. But there were occasions that some visas were issued on verbal instructions due to emergency situations,” he said.
Lashkar-e-Taiba, a banned terrorist organization, was held responsible for a series of 12 coordinated shooting and bombing attacks lasting four days across Mumbai
Commenting over Sharif’s connections with Indian steel magnet Sajan Jandal, Abdul Basit said that Jandal was very close to Sharif and Nawaz Sharif wanted him to invest in coal mines in Pakistan. He said that Nawaz Sharif did take some measures which were against the interests of the state of Pakistan.
Referring to the Pathankot incident occurred on January 2, 2016, Abdul Basit said Nawaz government also got registered FIRs against some Pakistani individuals which were not in the interest of Pakistan.
Commenting over the issue of Indian saboteur Kulbhushan Jadhav, Abdul Basit said that the top officers of those times in the ministry of foreign affairs of Pakistan had played the same role as was the case with Nawaz Sharif.
Nawaz’s ‘anti-state’ remarks
The allegation levelled by a former senior FO official or now by former ambassador is a reminder for all the concerned analysts and experts in Pakistan to reframe all the development which took place during Nawaz’s tenure. It is worth noting that since the time Prime Minister Imran Khan took his oath as PM of Pakistan, the country has been able to garner unprecedented soft power. The premier has also exposed India on several occasions and explained how the RSS ideology has overshadowed India’s constitutional secularism.
Read more: Is Nawaz Sharif, three times PM, a traitor?
Nawaz Sharif who was disqualified by the Supreme Court of Pakistan for not being honest and truthful is now serving seven years imprisonment for possessing assets beyond known sources. Nawaz Sharif has been three times prime minister of Pakistan but his critics allege that “Nawaz always came in power after signing a deal with the establishment” and Asghar Khan Case confirms such allegations. It has been now an established fact that Nawaz with the help of spy agencies toppled the government of Benazir Bhutto in 1990.
Moreover, Nawaz’s political position became highly questionable when he made some ‘irresponsible’ and ‘controversial’ remarks on Mumbai attacks after his disqualification. In an exclusive interview to daily Dawn’s Cyril Almeida Sharif blamed Pakistan for ‘allowing’ terrorists to kill 150 people in Mumbai. “Militant organizations are active. Call them non-state actors, should we allow them to cross the border and kill 150 people in Mumbai? Explain it to me. Why can’t we complete the trial?” angry Nawaz asserted.
Sharif was alluding to the 2008 Mumbai attacks when more than 150 people were killed and more than 300 were wounded. Indian media and authorities immediately blamed Pakistan for the brutal attack. Lashkar-e-Taiba, a banned terrorist organization, was held responsible for a series of 12 coordinated shooting and bombing attacks lasting four days across Mumbai. Pakistan agreed to cooperate with India in order to reach a logical conclusion of the case. But India kept on blaming Pakistan without sharing any intelligence based material with the authorities.
Read more: Are Nawaz Sharif & Khaqan Abbasi traitors?
In the instant matter, it is yet to be seen whether the PML-N or Sharif family formally responds to these allegations or not. But analysts maintain that independent researchers and public intellectuals must look into the nature of the relationship between the Sharif family and Indian political establishment.