Pakistan’s former PM Sharif hints at political comeback

Deposed premier Nawaz Sharif called on opposition parties at a virtual conference in Islamabad on Sunday to formulate a plan of action and oust the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf government from power. (File/AFP)
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Updated 20 September 2020

Pakistan’s former PM Sharif hints at political comeback

  • In 2017, during Sharif was removed from power by the Pakistani Supreme Court amid revelations over his wealth
  • He was subsequently convicted of corruption

ISLAMABAD: Deposed premier Nawaz Sharif called on opposition parties at a virtual conference in Islamabad on Sunday to formulate a plan of action and oust the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf government from power.
He accused Prime Minister Imran Khan of being “inefficient” and also hinted at a political comeback.
“Our foremost priority should be removing this selected government. The opposition’s struggle is not against the prime minister but those who installed Imran Khan and manipulated elections to bring an inefficient man like him to power,” he said from London, where he is seeking medical treatment.
The three-time former premier and leader of the opposition Pakistan Muslim League (PML-N), Sharif flew to the UK on an air ambulance in November last year, a month after he was released on bail for a seven-year prison sentence.
“We should formulate a comprehensive strategy for supremacy of the constitution and respect for the vote,” he said, adding that the people’s mandate had been “hijacked” during the 2018 elections which put the PTI in power. Sharif alleged that it was “decided who would win before the vote even took place.”
Later, he accused state agencies, including the National Accountability Bureau and the Federal Investigation Agency, of “discriminatory actions” against the opposition.
In 2017, during his third term as prime minister, Sharif was removed from power by the Pakistani Supreme Court amid revelations over his wealth. He was subsequently convicted of corruption. Sharif has consistently denied the accusations.
“Whatever strategy you’ll devise, the PML-N will fully support it,” he said on Sunday.
Former president Asif Ali Zardari, leader of the opposition Pakistan People’s Party (PPP), who has been under investigation on charges of corruption and money laundering, also took part in the conference from Karachi.
Earlier, Zardari urged the conference, hosted by his son, PPP chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, to formulate a plan to help “strengthen democracy” in the country.
“We are not here to overthrow the government, but our aim should be a revival of the democracy,” he said.


Afghan vice president vows ‘no mercy’ in violent crime fight

Updated 4 min 4 sec ago

Afghan vice president vows ‘no mercy’ in violent crime fight

  • Former spy chief leads campaign after thefts, abductions sweep capital

KABUL: A security campaign spearheaded by Afghanistan Vice President Amrullah Saleh has been launched in Kabul following an outcry among residents over a recent surge in violent crime.

Interior Ministry spokesman Tariq Aryan said a mass manhunt began on Friday involving over 20,000 posters and photographs of hundreds of wanted criminals in the capital.

“These people have been involved in numerous crimes such as theft, armed robbery, abductions and killings and we are urging citizens to inform the police of their whereabouts,” he told Arab News.

Aryan said that Saleh’s extensive security experience as the country’s former spy chief will help him bring the situation under control.

When he assumed the new role last week, Saleh said in a Facebook post that he would take responsibility for security in the city and would show “no mercy” to criminals.

The vice president’s new security role comes after the Taliban distributed leaflets in parts of Kabul, promising citizens that they would patrol and arrest criminals, and sentence them in their own courts.

The recent spike in crime has also pushed residents to launch a social media campaign using the hashtag #Kabulisnotsafe. Some demanded severe punishment, such as dismemberment for robbery, which was imposed under Taliban rule from 1996 to 2001 and led to a fall in crime figures.

Fawzia Nasiryar, a lawmaker from Kabul, said she and other legislators have received complaints from constituents over surging crime. Muggings and violent robberies even occur in broad daylight, she added.

Several attacks have led to deaths, she said.

Criminals have also targeted vulnerable groups, including children. Earlier this month thieves entered a high school to rob students, Nasiryar said.

“We hope that the vice president’s efforts will produce results and we witness a drop in the number of crimes,” she told Arab News, but added that it will be difficult to keep crime at bay when the war-torn country’s economy is so poor.

“As long as the economy is bad and there is joblessness, we won’t see improvement in the situation. Sadly, in a society where one person is rich out of 100 people, you will naturally see a rise in crimes.”

However, the increasing crime rate has also disrupted economic activity.

Jan Aqa Naweed, a spokesman for Afghanistan’s Chambers of Commerce, told Arab News that surging crime in recent years has prompted hundreds of Afghan businessmen to leave the country, taking their capital and investments with them.

Some analysts argue that the vice president’s intervention is a mere public relations effort and will fail to achieve a lasting impact.

Wahidullah Ghazikhail said the security campaign only seeks to address public anger.

“This will have a temporary impact and is aimed at calming down the anger and sentiments of people,” he said.