Echoing government narrative, case alleges former prime minister’s speeches sought to distract global attention from India-held Kashmir
Lahore’s Shahdara Police Station on Monday registered a first information report (FIR) against former prime minister Nawaz Sharif and several of his party leaders over “conspiring” against the country and state institutions.
Registered by citizen Babar Rasheed, the FIR—a copy of which is available with Newsweek—alleges that Sharif’s speeches were intended to “indirectly” benefit his “friend” Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi. It has been filed under Section 10 (cyberterrorism) of the Pakistan Electronic Crimes Act 2016; and Sections 120A (definition of criminal conspiracy), 120B (criminal conspiracy), 121A (conspiracy to wage war against Pakistan), 123A (condemning the creation of the country and advocating the abolishment of its sovereignty), 124A (sedition), and 153A (promoting enmity between different groups) of the Pakistan Penal Code.
According to the FIR—which parrots the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf-led government’s narrative—the PMLN leader’s speeches supported the policies of India, alleging that Sharif wanted the country to be retained on the Financial Action Task Force (FATF)’s grey-list. In another echo of the government’s statement, the FIR alleges that Sharif’s speeches to an all-parties conference and his party’s central executive committee sought to divert global attention from Delhi’s actions in India-held Jammu and Kashmir.
Alleging that the former prime minister’s speeches had defamed Pakistan’s high courts and armed forces in front of the international community, the FIR states Sharif has several pending corruption cases against him. “Instead of availing medical treatment in London, Nawaz is carrying out a planned conspiracy to defame the country and its institutions by making inflammatory speeches,” it said, adding “the main purpose of Nawaz’s speeches is to isolate Pakistan in front of the international community and to declare it a rogue state.” The complaint adds that Sharif is trying to turn Pakistanis against a democratically elected government.
In addition to Sharif, the FIR also names party leaders Raja Zafarul Haq, Ayaz Sadiq, Khurram Dastgir, Lt. Gen. (retd.) Abdul Qayyum, Saleem Zia, Iqbal Zafar Jhagra, Salahuddin Tirmizi, Pakistan-administered Kashmir Prime Minister Raja Farooq Haider, Maryam Nawaz, Sheikh Aftab Ahmed, Khawaja Asif, Najma Hamid, Zakia Shahnawaz, Tariq Razzaq Chaudhry, Rana Sanaullah, Ahsan Iqbal, Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, Pervez Rashid, Marriyum Aurangzeb, Ataullah Tarar and others that participated in the PMLN’s CEC and central working committee meetings last week.
Reacting to the FIR, Abbasi slammed the government, alleging that the case registered by a “random citizen” just happened to be parroting the narrative of government lawmakers. “Our principled stance remains the government should fight us politically,” he said. “But if the government wants to arrest us, then they should just arrest us and stop playing this game,” he said, adding that branding opponents “traitors” was the last resort of failed leaders and this government had decided to adopt it as its first step against the Pakistan Democratic Movement.
Similarly, in a statement posted on Twitter, PMLN spokesperson Marriyum Aurangzeb said the case was proof the “selected” government was “panicking.” She added: “Voices fighting for the truth and for the rights [of people] can’t be suppressed by such false and baseless cases.” She alleged the incumbent government was branding political opponents, the media, and those fighting for human rights and democracy as “traitors.”
In an interview last week, Prime Minister Imran Khan alleged Sharif was playing a “dangerous game” by leveling allegations of political interference against the Army. “This is a dangerous game Nawaz is playing; Altaf Hussain played the same game,” he said, comparing the PMLN leader to the MQM founder. He claimed he was “100 percent” sure that India was helping the PMLN leader.
Sharif, last week, slammed the incumbent government for “dual standards of accountability,” saying he could “no longer remain quiet.”
He said that the “people who had brought Imran Khan to power” were the ones to blame for the country’s current state, adding that they would have to answer for their actions. “When I look at the state the country is in, it saddens me deeply,” he said. “We were on such a great path to progress and look at where we are now.”