Need to assess our actions, says former Pakistan PM Sharif after Trump’s remark on cutting off aid
Sharif described as “disappointing” US President Donald Trump’s accusation that Pakistan was granting “safe haven” to militants Washington was hunting in Afghanistan.world Updated: Jan 03, 2018 23:16 IST
Former premier Nawaz Sharif on Wednesday called for soul searching in the face of the US President Donald Trump’s remarks about cutting off aid over Pakistan’s counter-terror efforts, saying there is a need to assess why the world has a negative opinion of the country.
Addressing a news conference hours after his return from Saudi Arabia, Sharif said there was a need to move away from “self-deception”. The three-time premier, who was disqualified by the Supreme Court last year for dishonesty, also warned he would spill the beans on forces that were bent on weakening democracy.
“As a respectable Pakistani citizen, I want to point out that we should assess our actions,” he said.
“I have repeatedly talked about putting our house in order and urged the people to reflect on why the world has negative opinions about us and does not take us seriously,” he said, an apparent reference to calls by the world community for Pakistan to end its support for terror groups blamed for attacks in India and Afghanistan.
Sharif also responded to Trump’s warning about cutting off aid to Pakistan by saying the government isn’t bothered by such threats. Describing Trump’s tweet on the matter as “non-serious”, he said a head of state should keep in mind the rules of diplomatic engagement while addressing another state.
But he also said the people should ask themselves why the world doesn’t listen to Pakistan or accept its narrative despite its sacrifices in the war on terror over 17 years.
“We need to search for answers to these questions,” he said. “If these questions are sidelined and the answers are not sought, it would count as self-deception. It is because of these self-deceptions that Pakistan has been polarised.”
Sharif said his advice on such matters was overlooked or maligned as the “Dawn leaks”, a reference to the row between the civilian government and the powerful military in 2016 over a story in the Dawn newspaper about civilian leaders warning the military to act against terror groups or face global isolation.
Turning to the upcoming general election, Sharif said successive prime ministers had been prevented from completing their terms. The public’s choice of leaders was turned into mockery and, once again, some forces were trying to sideline political parties and pave the way for their chosen leaders.
Sharif’s remarks were an apparent reference to Imran Khan, with observers saying he is being backed by the security establishment to curb the ruling PML-N party.
Without naming the forces, Sharif said: “They are trying to shift the public’s views and block the way for a certain political party, and pave the way for their ‘ladla’.
“The most recent assessment of numbers says the PML-N is still ahead of any other political party and its vote bank is larger than the vote bank of all other political parties combined. The ones afraid of this truth are trying hard to change the reality.”
Calling for free and fair polls, he said there should be no secret deals to impose leaders on the people. “I would like to say if this propaganda doesn’t stop, I will spill the beans on them…with all the evidence. I will tell the tale of the past four years and tell the nation what has been going on here,” he added.
Earlier in the day, Sharif appeared in an anti-graft court trying him for alleged corruption and later told reporters he was disqualified by the Supreme Court on flimsy grounds as there was no proof of wrongdoing by him.
Sharif, his daughter Maryam Nawaz and son-in-law Mohammad Safdar Hussain appeared in the accountability court in Islamabad shortly after he returned Saudi Arabia, ending speculation that he could go into self-exile.
“They have not been able to prove any crime against me yet,” he said.
Sharif, who travelled to Saudi Arabia on December 30 amid reports of a “deal” with Pakistan’s military, returned on Tuesday with his younger brother, Punjab chief minister Shehbaz Sharif.
“There is no need for the US to refer to the Coalition Support Fund as ‘Aid to Pakistan’,” the PML-N President told the media here, Dawn reported.
Sharif described as “disappointing” US President Donald Trump’s accusation that Pakistan was granting “safe haven” to militants Washington was hunting in Afghanistan.
“Pakistan has been involved in somebody else’s war for over 17 years. The country has suffered the brunt of the damage the world has seen since 9/11,” Sharif said.
“The US President should not forget that my ... Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) government pledged to eradicate terrorism from Pakistan when it came into power in 2013.”
The ousted Prime Minister noted that responsible members of the international community respected the norms of diplomacy when in direct communication with other nation states.
“Pakistan should not be taunted or threatened with the prospect of aid and labelling the CSF as aid is not correct,” he said.