LONDON: For the first time since he came to London in 2019, Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) supreme leader Nawaz Sharif spoke publicly about the personal and political challenges he and his family have faced since the passing of his wife, Kulsoom.
In a pre-recorded interview with a handful of journalists which was aired on Sunday, the Sharif patriarch spoke at length about the pain of losing his wife, the vilification the family endured in her last days, and the toll his incarceration took on them.
Though he has spoken about his tribulations in the last three years in private on occasion, he has shied away from taking on the subject publicly, and has denied requests for interviews.
Now, with Maryam Nawaz by his side, the elder Sharif appeared to be in a mood to engage and speak candidly. A source who met him ahead of Maryam’s arrival said he was greatly anticipating their reunion, and that her arrival has emboldened him.
Calls for action against judges behind ‘injustices’ meted out to Sharif family; meets Aleem Khan alongside daughter Maryam
Back home, as Imran Khan threatens to march to the capital, and the all-important retirement of the army chief inches closer, London is once again becoming a hub of political activity.
The prime minister was in London twice last month to hold important discussions with his brother. Ahead of Maryam’s arrival, Punjab Chief Minister Chaudhry Parvez Elahi, too, was seen in London. While rumours of a possible meeting with Nawaz swirled, they have been roundly denied.
On Monday, disgruntled PTI leader Aleem Khan was also seen leaving Stanhope House after a meeting with Mr Sharif and his daughter, but all participants remained tight-lipped about what was discussed.
Mr Khan was seen leaving Hussain Nawaz’s office in Stanhope House, but when asked by reporters to share what was discussed in the meeting, he responded by saying, “please ask me about the weather”.
Later, when Maryam Nawaz exited the building, she did not divulge details about the meeting either. When a reporter asked about the possibility of a change in the Punjab government, she was evasive.
This is not Aleem Khan’s first meeting with Nawaz Sharif. In March this year, as the then-opposition geared for a no-confidence vote against Imran Khan, Aleem Khan met with Mr Sharif at his son’s office.
Though Mr Sharif has largely kept his cards close to his chest for the major part of the last three years, speculations are high that Maryam’s characteristic outspokenness will rub off on him, and the coming days will see more revelations.
The former prime minister, who spoke to journalists alongside his daughter, said that he and his sons had met Maryam after three years, Dawn.com reported.
“I remember all those scenes, how my wife was on her deathbed and how cruelly we were treated,” he said.
Recounting his tribulations, Mr Sharif described one occasion, in Judge Arshad Malik’s court, when he was informed that his wife’s health had worsened and that she was in intensive care. “I was worried… so I went to the jail and in the room of the jail superintendent I asked him to allow me to talk [to my family], but they told me ‘we can’t’.
“I pleaded with them, but they didn’t allow it… after three hours, they came and said ‘we are very sorry your wife has died’.”
He said he had insisted on being the one to inform his daughter who was also in Kot Lakhpat at the time.
“These are events that are never forgotten. This loss can never be repaired or forgotten,” he said, adding: “Today, Maryam came after winning her case and proved the case and punishment were false.”
To a question regarding the cases against him allegedly being part of a “political vendetta”, Nawaz quipped that the question contained the answer itself and referred to the alleged leaked audio clip of former chief justice of Pakistan Saqib Nisar regarding Nawaz and Maryam’s trial.
“There is an audio leak and you can’t deny it, its forensic [analysis] has also been carried out… do you need any greater evidence than this? Is there any bigger evidence than the things that judge Shaukat Aziz Siddiqui said?”
He alleged that he was punished and disqualified for life to keep him away from elections and yet, today, the lifetime disqualification clause was being criticised as “draconian”.
“So where is the rectification for [what happened with me],” Nawaz asked, adding that such matters should be brought before the nation.
He claimed that in the process of “taking revenge” against him, he alleged the country’s fortunes were also sunk.
Nawaz said that the judges who had committed such “injustices” should be held accountable.
Talking about the recent alleged audio leaks about Imran Khan, Nawaz chalked them up to karma, adding: “the one who plotted has turned out to be the biggest conspirator” and wondered what else would come to light.