Sharif statement roils Pakistan’s top civil-military brass

Former Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. (AFP)
Updated 14 May 2018

Sharif statement roils Pakistan’s top civil-military brass

  • Sharif challenges detractors to form 'national commission' to look into his statement
  • Some parts of the statement attributed to Nawaz Sharif not true, says PM Shahid Khaqan Abbasi

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s National Security Committee (NSC), the country’s top civil-military body, called former Premier Nawaz Sharif’s statement on the 2008 Mumbai attacks “incorrect and misleading” after its session on Monday. 
“The meeting reviewed the recent statement in the context of the Mumbai attacks, as it appeared in the Daily Dawn of 12th May 2018, and unanimously termed this statement as incorrect and misleading,” said an official handout released by the government after the meeting.
Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi chaired the meeting at Prime Minister’s House attended by all three services chiefs, including Chief of Army Staff Gen. Qamar Javed Bajwa and Director General Inter-Services Intelligence Lt. Gen. Naveed Mukhtar, as well as other senior civil and military officials.
“The participants observed that it was very unfortunate that the opinion arising out of either misconceptions or grievances was being presented in disregard of concrete facts and realities,” the official statement said.
The participants of the meeting also “unanimously rejected the allegations and condemned the fallacious assertions.”
Sharif on Saturday questioned the role of militant outfits in cross-border terrorism in his interview published in Dawn newspaper. This was played up by Indian media as an admission by Pakistan of its involvement in Mumbai attacks.
“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?” Nawaz Sharif said in the interview.
The NSC meeting, however, accused India of delay in finalization of the cases against alleged Lashkar-e-Taiba’s militants who attacked installations in Mumbai in November 2008.
“Besides many other refusals (by India) during the investigation, the denial of access to the principal accused, Ajmal Kasab, and his extraordinarily hurried execution became the core impediment in the finalization of the trial (here in Pakistan),” the statement said.
Earlier, Pakistan’s major opposition parties, including Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) and Pakistan People’s Party (PPP), also lambasted Sharif for his “irresponsible” statement and demanded that he retract it.
Fawad Chaudhry, secretary of information for PTI, said that Sharif was trying to appease the international establishment through his "anti-Pakistan" statements.
“Nawaz Sharif has fired a bullet at Pakistan and state institutions,” he told Arab News.
PTI legislator Khurram Sher Zaman on Monday submitted a resolution in the Sindh Assembly seeking a “ban on the broadcast of Nawaz Sharif’s statements and speeches” as these had “given comfort and propaganda points to all enemies of Pakistan.”
Political analyst Qamar Cheema told Arab News: “There is deep divide between the establishment and Nawaz Sharif and to damage the establishment Nawaz tried to give an impression that non-state actors are still being used by the Pakistani establishment as state policy.”
He said that it was the individual conduct of some militants who attacked different buildings in Mumbai, and “Pakistan is already prosecuting all of the suspects involved in the attack.”
Shortly after the National Security Committee meeting, Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi said: “Nawaz Sharif was misquoted by the Indian media.”
Addressing a press conference in Islamabad, the prime minister said: “Some parts of the statement attributed to Nawaz Sharif are not true.”
However, local news channels criticized him for going against the earlier NSC statement and creating further ambiguity. Punjab Law Minister Rana Sanaullah owned Nawaz Sharif’s statement and publicly defended his position while talking to the media in Lahore.
He said that Sharif had made the statement in the “greater national interest,” adding he was not the first Pakistani who had raised these concerns about the Mumbai attacks. He claimed that the former prime minister’s rivals were targeting him to gain political mileage ahead of the general elections.
Sanaullah also lashed out at the country’s security establishment: “One general comes into power and creates ‘mujahideen;’ the other takes over power and declares them terrorists.” He added such political antics could not be allowed in the country anymore.
The Punjab law minister’s media talk was followed by Sharif’s public rally in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’s Buner city, during which he remained unfazed and unapologetic. 
The former prime minister wondered why there was no accountability of generals who overthrew democratically-elected governments and undermined the constitution of the country while politicians who worked for Pakistan and its people were labelled as traitors.
Sharif also challenged his detractors to form a “national commission” to look into his statement, saying that the same authority should also bring together those individuals who were calling him a traitor so that the people of Pakistan could see who was right and who was wrong.
“Whoever is found guilty,” he said while addressing a roaring crowd, “hang him publicly.”


UK PM Boris Johnson locks down England as COVID-19 cases pass 1 million

Updated 31 October 2020

UK PM Boris Johnson locks down England as COVID-19 cases pass 1 million

  • Lockdown starts just after midnight on Thursday morning
  • United Kingdom has the biggest official death toll in Europe from COVID-19

LONDON: Prime Minister Boris Johnson ordered England back into a national lockdown after the United Kingdom passed the milestone of one million COVID-19 cases and a second wave of infections threatened to overwhelm the health service.
The United Kingdom, which has the biggest official death toll in Europe from COVID-19, is grappling with more than 20,000 new coronavirus cases a day and scientists have warned the “worst case” scenario of 80,000 dead could be exceeded.
Johnson, at a hastily convened news conference in Downing Street after news of a lockdown leaked to local media, said that the one-month lockdown across England would kick in at a minute past midnight on Thursday morning and last until Dec. 2.
In some of the most onerous restrictions in Britain’s peacetime history, people will only be allowed to leave home for specific reasons such as education, work, exercise, shopping for essentials and medicines or caring for the vulnerable.
“Now is the time to take action because there is no alternative,” Johnson said, flanked by his chief medical officer, Chris Whitty, and his chief scientific adviser, Patrick Vallance.
The government will revive its emergency coronavirus wage subsidy scheme to ensure workers who are temporarily laid off during a new England-wide lockdown receive 80% of their pay.
Essential shops, schools, and universities will remain open, Johnson said. Pubs and restaurants will be shut apart from for takeaways. All non-essential retail will close.
Johnson’s imposition of stricter curbs came after scientists warned the outbreak was going in the wrong direction and that action was needed to halt the spread of the virus if families were to have any hope of gathering at Christmas.
Johnson was criticized by political opponents for moving too slowly into the first national lockdown, which stretched from March 23 to July 4. He fell ill with COVID in late March and was hospitalized in early April.
The measures bring England into alignment with France and Germany by imposing nationwide restrictions almost as severe as the ones that drove the global economy this year into its deepest recession in generations.
So far the United Kingdom has reported 46,555 COVID-19 deaths — defined as those dying within 28 days of a positive test. A broader death measure of those with COVID-19 on their death certificates gives the toll as 58,925.
The United Kingdom has the world’s fifth largest official death toll, after the United States, Brazil, India and Mexico, according to a Johns Hopkins University tally.