Ex-diplomats' allegations against Nawaz call for proper investigations

By: Ashraf Mumtaz      Published: 06:17 PM, 19 Mar, 2020
Ex-diplomats' allegations against Nawaz call for proper investigations
File photo

Fresh allegations against former prime minister Mian Nawaz Sharif, who has been in London for the past four months because of health problems, have raised many an eyebrow, after which there is an urgent need for the relevant quarters to look into their veracity.

The accusations come from two former diplomats who worked as spokespersons to the foreign office before being given ambassadorial assignments. Also, they have spoken after a gap of only a few days, which may not be just a coincidence.

 The sensitivity of the matter demands that a proper investigation should be carried out, ignoring the routine rebuttal coming from the PML-N, and the matter should be taken to its logical conclusion.

Ms Tasneem Aslam has been quoted as saying that as prime minister Mr Nawaz Sharif had barred the FO from commenting against India and its spy Kulbhushan Jadhav, who has been in Pakistan’s custody for some years.

“Nawaz Sharif did not want to say anything against India and Jadhav through the Foreign Office,” she claimed during an interview with a YouTube channel being run by an Islamabad-based journalist.

Ms Aslam worked as Foreign Office spokesperson twice — first from 2005 to 2007 during the regime of Gen Pervez Musharraf and then during the Pakistan Muslim League-N rule between 2013 and 2017.

After joining the Foreign Service of Pakistan in 1984 she served in Pakistan’s missions in New Delhi, The Hague and Paris before serving as Pakistan's ambassador to Italy between 2007-2010 and later to the Kingdom of Morocco in 2012. She served as the Additional Foreign Secretary for European Affairs from August 2013 till December 2013.

Asked if Mr Sharif’s instruction benefited the country, she said: “It did not benefit the country but I do not know whether it benefited his [Nawaz’s] own interests or not.”

According to Ms Aslam, Mr Sharif had business interests in India and he did not meet leaders of India-held Kashmir’s political party Hurriyat Conferences when he visited India as the prime minister. “Usually, every prime minister of Pakistan meets Hurriyat leaders but Nawaz Sharif did not meet them when he visited India.”

Mr Sharif had visited India in 2014.

Ms Aslam said even in his speech at the United Nations summit Mr Sharif did not talk about India and Jadhav but on the Kashmir issue.

After Ms Tasneem, Pakistan’s former high commissioner to India -Abdul Basit – who also served as country’s spokesperson at the Foreign Office, has said something about Mian Nawaz Sharif, which is quite astonishing.

Abdul Basit alleged that the former prime minister’s business interests had led to some actions which were against the national and state interests of Pakistan.

the viewpoint of Ms Aslam, Abdul Basit said that Nawaz Sharif wanted to develop a good relationship with India by striking a ‘private equation’ with Indian premier Narendra Modi but this approach, according to him, was flawed.

As far as the issue of Jammu and Kashmir was concerned, Mr Basit said that he had openly expressed his reservations on Nawaz Sharif’s Kashmir policy. He said it was a stated policy of Pakistan to remain in contact with the Hurriyat leadership and as High Commissioner to India, he had pursued the same policy.

“Though I was conveyed verbal directions many a time, I had always insisted on written directions from the prime minister,” he asserted, without elaborating on the subjects the directions were about or their likely ramifications.

Commenting on the business interests of Nawaz Sharif with India, Abdul Basit said that the Sharif family had sugar mills in Pakistan.

“I remember that Nawaz Sharif’s nephew, Salman Shehbaz, used to call me on phone at least once a month for issuance of visas to certain Indian nationals. I used to ask Salman Shehbaz to follow the SoPs (Standard Operating Procedures) for the issuance of visas to foreigners. But there were occasions that some visas were issued on verbal instructions due to emergency situations,” he said.

At present, the government is seeking repatriation from London of the three-time former premier, holding that he is a convict and should be sent to Pakistan to serve out the remaining term.

The PML-N leaders, however, oppose the contention, saying Mr Sharif would return to Pakistan only after full recovery. It’s not clear how long it may take him to deal with the multiple ailments. 

Political observers say that the family of Mr Sharif had migrated from India and good relations between the two countries could be a natural desire of the former prime minister.

However, it is also a fact that India is an enemy and it had played an unforgivable role in the dismemberment of this country in 1971.

It is also an open secret that Prime Minister Modi is now trying to separate Balochistan from Pakistan. For this purpose, Indian RAW carries out subversive activities in the thinly-populated province whenever it gets an opportunity.

During the PML-N third term, Modi had come to Lahore to attend the wedding of Mr Sharif’s granddaughter, a move reflective of special ties between the two leaders.

(Mr Sharif had also participated in the wedding ceremony of Turkish President Erdogan’s daughter a few years ago and had also signed the marriage document as a witness. But Sharif-Erdogan ties can’t be compared to Sharif-Modi ties).

It is in the interest of the former prime to prove that he has no business interests in India and that he had issued no instructions to the Foreign Office, as alleged by the above-mentioned two former diplomats.

PML-N information secretary Marriyum Aurangzeb has issued a comprehensive statement to reject Ms Tasneem’s allegations as a false and biased expression of an individual’s views, based on her personal predilections.

Still, political observers are of the view that the matter is too serious to be left to the routine denials. It needs proper investigations.

The PML-N information secretary said Mr Sharif had taken a very sincere initiative for the resolution of the Kashmir dispute when he in 1998 invited the then former Indian prime minister to Pakistan. It was that diplomatic initiative that led to the Lahore Accord that contained in it the roadmap for the resolution of the Kashmir issue, she added.

“Again, it was Mian Sahab who refused to accede to the entreaties of world powers while rejecting their economic offers and insisting on carrying out six nuclear tests not only to restore strategic parity with India, but to demonstrate the invincibility of Pakistan’s non-conventional assets,” she said.

“The principled manner in which he dealt with the issue of Pakistan’s relations with its eastern neighbour is well documented.”

The PML-N spokeswoman said the former prime minister’s address to the UN General Assembly in 2016 contained the most forceful references ever to the issue of Kashmir and the most powerful condemnation of the atrocities and brutalities of the Indian occupation forces.

“Finally, it was Mian Sahab who was critical of the proposal made by a Pakistan’s military dictator to India to abandon the UN Security Council Resolutions that sanctify the righteousness of Pakistan’s stand on Kashmir,” the PML-N leader said.

“In the face of these established and well-known facts, no credence need be attached to the frivolous and baseless comments of the retired official of the Foreign Office. The facts speak for themselves,” she added.

She said Mr Sharif had been in national politics for over three decades and during this period he had dozens of occasions to deal with Indian leaders. “Facts and reality are a matter of record,” she added.