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Former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s recent remark that the Mumbai attacks originated in Pakistan has alienated most of country’s populace, to say nothing of its all-powerful military establishment.
At a meeting on Monday of the National Security Committee (NSC), army leaders were insistent that the serving Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi must distance himself from his former leader.
“PM Abbasi has been told by the military leadership to address the Parliament and distance himself from Nawaz Sharif’s statement about the Mumbai attacks,” an official at to the closed NSC meeting leaked.
Sharif did the unthinkable by accepting the terrorist attack on Mumbai, in November 2008 was launched by Pakistan.
“Nawaz Sharif is echoing Indian propaganda and throwing mud on Pakistan. His comments are not anti-army, they are anti-Pakistan” a senior army official reportedly said.
On this Nawaz Sharif is reported to have told an interviewer: “Militant organizations are active. Call them non-state actors…”
A PML-N leader was then heard to say: “While the comments are being misinterpreted – especially by the Indian media, because Nawaz Sharif never said the government or state was involved in the attack, their timing just before the election could definitely impact our vote bank”.
Meanwhile, younger brother Shahbaz Sharif said his brother’s statement “did not reflect party policy” while Nawaz’s daughter Maryam, insisted that her father’s remarks were in Pakistan’s “best interests”.
“It is embarrassing for the party, it’s embarrassing for Shahbaz Sharif,” former PML-N minister Ayaz Amir said. “I don’t know whether there will be a proper split or not, but many in his party are shying away from his anti-establishment course, which could lead to defections.”
They already have. Nawaz’s supporters now say that the aim of the exercise is to bring in international observers “to prevent the Army from rigging the election”.
This has cut no ice within the country and most believe it to be the billionaire former Prime Minister’s last stand.
Sharif is not fighting for democracy, but for his own survival against charges of treason admits a supporter wanting to remain anonymous.