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Nawaz Sharif's departure

Exile may help ease tension on political and economic fronts

Dec 18 - 24, 2000

It was the fine morning of Sunday December 10 when the headlines flashed about the unceremonial departure of the former prime minister Nawaz Sharif from Pakistan to Saudi Arabia taking everyone by surprise. There were mix reactions over his unexpected good bye to the politics during his ten-year exile. Some were happy over decision of buying freedom against whatever the cost he paid while others who were in a shock called it a betrayal on the part of the exiled leader.

The event took place following the President Rafiq Tarar pardoned Nawaz Sharif's 25-year jail sentence but exiled the former prime minister and his family to Saudi Arabia.

According to official announcement, on the advice of the Chief Executive, the President has pardoned Nawaz Sharif's remaining jail sentence according to law. The rest of the punishment awarded by the honorable courts which includes fine; forfeiture of property and disqualification from public office would remain in place. Nawaz Sharif and his family exiled to Saudi Arabia. The decision has been taken in the best interest of the country and the people of Pakistan, the announcement said.


Those who accompanied by the exiled Nawaz Sharif include his father Mian Sharif and mother Shamim Akhtar, wife Kulsoom Nawaz, jailed son Hussain Nawaz, daughter-in-law Saira Hussain, grandson Zakariya, daughter Mariam Safdar their two kids Mehrunnisa and Junaid, Abbas Sharif, his wife Safia and two sons Yousuf Abbas and Aziz Abbas, brother and former chief minister Punjab Shahbaz Sharif his wife Nusrat Shahbaz and daughter Rubab Shahbaz.


A valuation committee, comprising chartered accountants and a representative of the government would determine the total worth of industrial units, agricultural land and other assets surrendered by the Sharif family to clear its liabilities, it is learnt. Chartered accountants firms have already been identified but the government has yet to nominate its representative. It is learnt that Hudaibia Paper Mill and Hudaibia Engineering are the only two industries concerns surrendered by Ittefaq Group to the government. The administrative control of both the units was handed over to the government. Sharif Medical City and Educational Complex is also to be surrendered. These are welfare projects and are unlikely to be liquidated. There would however a change in the board of trustees. Bhopattian farm, agriculture land in Raiwind and Multan and his Model Town residence has also been attached. Sharif family's much talked about residence in Jati Umra will however be allowed to retain by Sharifs.

Ramzan Sugar Mill located in Chiniot, Chaudhary Sugar Mill Gojra and Mehran Ramzan will remain with the Sharif family and their affairs will be handled by Hamza Shahbaz Sharif. Hamza Shahbaz will be the only member of the Sharif family who will continue to live in Pakistan. A large scale reshuffling and lay off of senior executives of Ittefaq Group is also being taken place.

Though the exciting event was talk of the town for a few days but was subsided gradually. It is generally felt that his departure may help easing tense political and economic conditions in the country. Since the exiled politician was originally belonged to the business community, it is generally believed that a certain portion of the business sector having a soft corner for Nawaz Sharif was not comfortable with the situation. The change of situation may now help them to concentrate on their business affairs single-mindedly.

Although there is some stir on the political front especially for party leadership in the wake of his departure, the dust is likely to settle down shortly. Unfortunately, with a few exceptions, our political parties have failed in institutionalizing the party affairs. Personality cult has always been the main feature of the majority of our political parties and Pakistan Muslim League was not exception to this. Due to lack of democratic norms and values most of the parties are run by one-man show. People, in general, feel that this concept of one-man show is also likely to prove in case of Pakistan Muslim League too.

All said and done, the departure of former prime minister Nawaz Sharif from Pakistan can of course be described as the most outstanding event in the political history of Pakistan. Practically speaking, ever increasing cost of living, harsh economic conditions, deteriorating buying powers have rendered the people least interested in political developments. People generally allege that it is our political leadership responsible for bringing the country at the verge of economic collapse hence they are fed up with the politics and the politicians. People are looking for the situation when thing of daily use would be within their reach. They would be able to pay the utility bills, which have gone beyond their reach due to unabated increase in tariffs and constant decline in buying powers.