LAHORE: Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) supremo and former prime minister, Nawaz Sharif has termed the ‘good relations’ with neighbours vital for development of the country.
The former PM who landed in Pakistan on Saturday after spending four years in self-imposed exile was addressing a historic ‘homecoming’ rally organized by the PML-N at Minar-e-Pakistan ground to celebrate the return of their leader.
The PML-N leaders from across the country along with contingents of enthusiastic supporters attended the rally at Minar-e-Pakistan ground which was adorned with dazzling electric lighting.
Nawaz Sharif while addressing the party leaders and activists said, “I am among you after several years but was proud of longstanding relationship with you and love you accorded to me.”
The PML-N supremo noted that he had served the country with loyalty whenever he was given a chance, adding that he had resolved the issues of Pakistan and never hesitated from any sacrifice.
He recalled regretted the “false” cases against him, PML-N president Shehbaz Sharif, party’s vice president and his daughter Maryam Nawaz and other party leaders. However, he said, no one abandoned the PML-N flag.
“Who are they who separate Nawaz Sharif from his nation?” he asked, recalling making Pakistan a nuclear power and “ended” loadshedding in the country during his time as the prime minister.
“Do you remember those 18 hours of loadshedding? Who ended it?” he asked, noting that it was under his leadership that the power issue was resolved.
The former premier stressed that “some wounds never heal”, recalling how he couldn’t pay the final respects to his mother, father or wife despite repeated requests in jail.
He said that these women won’t be there to receive him at his home like they did in the past. He then recalled the time when he was given the news of his wife’s death.
Referring to Pakistan’s nuclear tests on May 28, 1998, the former premier said that then-United States president Bill Clinton and other world leaders pressured him not to conduct tests.
“There will be record present in the Foreign Office that Bill Clinton offered me $5 billion in 1999 for not carrying out nuclear tests, but my conscience did not allow me to accept the thing which was against Pakistan’s favour,” he claimed.
“If someone else would have been in my place, could he have said this in front of the American president,” he added.
Nawaz Sharif maintained that they conducted the nuclear tests and gave India a befitting response.
“Are our [PML-N] governments toppled down and verdicts are issued against us for refusing the US and taking stance for the interest of Pakistan?,” he asked.
Speaking of the inflation, the former premier compared how roti and petrol’s costs way higher today than when he was in power. “Was I ousted for this reason? It was said that Nawaz Sharif was ousted for not taking salary from his son,” he said.
“You are the public, you tell, do you agree with such decision?” he asked the charged crowd at Minar-e-Pakistan jalsa.
He further said that no one in Pakistan would be unemployed if his party was allowed to continue the “1990s economic model”.
Unfortunately, he said, today, the condition was so bad that one has to think if they can feed their children or pay electricity bills. “People are committing suicide, and borrowing money to pay the bills.”
“During my tenure, the poor had enough financial resources to at least to seek healthcare and get himself treated,” he claimed.
Meanwhile, Nawaz Sharif clarified that these tough economic conditions weren’t created during the Shehbaz-led government but traced back to a long time.
“During our tenure sugar was 50 rupees per kilogram, today it is at 250,” he said, adding: “Pakistan was on its way to becoming an Asian tiger, we were preparing to ensure Pakistan’s inclusion in the G20.”
Earlier, PML-N supremo Nawaz Sharif reached Islamabad from Dubai via a chartered flight.
After landing at Islamabad airport, Sharif proceeded to the airport’s VIP lounge alongside party leader Ishaq Dar, to sign legal documents and complete biometric formalities.
The PML-N supremo stayed at Islamabad International Airport for over one hour where he signed documents and held consultation with his lawyers.
Notable leaders, including Maryam Nawaz, have already joined the rally, and Nawaz Sharif himself has arrived in Lahore from Islamabad, where he was warmly received by his brother, Shahbaz Sharif. A helicopter transported him to the historic Shahi Fort.
‘We symbolise May 28, not May 9’
Earlier, PML-N- supremo Nawaz Sharif on Saturday said they represented May 28, not May 9 – a reference to the nuclear tests conducted during his stint as prime minister in 1998 and the PTI’s role in the violence earlier this year.
“We are of May 28; we are not of May 9,” he told reporters at the airport before his historic departure for Islamabad after spending four years in self-exile.
The three-time prime minister questioned whether they could see the old Pakistan, as he referred to the current state of affairs when compared to the period before his ouster. Back then, bread was available for Rs4 with the provision of free-cost medicines, he added.
Why the matters had reached this point, he regretted. “It shouldn’t have had happened.”
Nawaz reminded the reporters that he had left the matter up to Almighty Allah and returning to the country as victorious, adding that he and his daughter – Maryam Nawaz were – jailed in bogus cases.
He described the country’s current top electoral body as a “fair” Election Commission, which, he added, was authorised when to call polls in the country. The Commission would hold free and fair elections, the PML-N supremo expressed the hope.
Later, Nawaz departed from Dubai in a chartered plane which will land in Islamabad in the afternoon. He will stay at the airport for an hour during which he will hold legal consultations. He will then leave for Lahore to receive a warm welcome by the party supporters.
While in the plane, one of the passengers asked Nawaz he had been removed from power whenever he ensured progress and development in Pakistan.
The former prime minister smiled and replied in Urdu poetry, which can best be translated as: “Perhaps you may be regretting my removal, I have returned to the gathering with the assumption.”__Pakistan Today