Nawaz Sharif, while speaking to reporters at the accountability court, “rejected” the National Security Committee’s (NSC) statement from yesterday, terming it “painful and regrettable”.
He stuck to his stance on the remarks regarding the Mumbai attacks made during an exclusive interview with Dawn published on Saturday in which Nawaz had said: “Militant organisations are active. Call them non-state actors, should we allow them to cross the border and kill 150 people in Mumbai? Explain it to me. Why can’t we complete the trial?”
Soon after the publication of Sharif’s interview, Indian media blew up his remarks, terming it an admission on part of the former prime minister that non-state actors from Pakistan were involved in the Mumbai attacks in which terrorists had killed more than 150 people and injured over 300 others in about a dozen shooting and bombing attacks in different localities.
The NSC, after a meeting yesterday, had issued a statement saying: “The participants observed that it was very unfortunate that the opinion arising out of either misconceptions or grievances was being presented in disregard of concrete facts and realities. The participants unanimously rejected the allegations and condemned the fallacious assertions.”
It is pertinent to mention that the NSC statement did not name Nawaz while addressing the controversy around the ‘misleading’ comments about Mumbai attack. Soon after the NSC meeting, Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi in a press conference had clarified that the NSC had in fact condemned “misreporting” and not his party’s supreme leader’s statement.
Nawaz rejected the NSC statement today, describing it as “painful and regrettable”, and said that it was “not based on facts”.
He reiterated his demand for the formation of a national commission to decide who committed treason and said that it would allow all facts to become clear. “A decision should be made about who is a patriot and who is a traitor,” he added.
“We should find out who laid the foundation of terrorism in the country,” he asserted.
“Pakistan is not becoming isolated, it is already isolated. Tell me which country stands with us, is there any?” he asked.
On Monday, several senators on both sides of the aisle had fired a broadside at Nawaz for his recent statement about the Mumbai attacks, with some going as far as demanding that the PML-N supremo be tried for high treason; that his name be placed on the Exit Control List, and a thorough investigation be undertaken to determine the reasons behind the statement made by a thrice-elected prime minister.
“Even at that time, the same things ─ getting our house in order ─ were being discussed in an NSC meeting,” he pointed out, referring to a 2016 meeting in which, media had reported, the civilian government had informed the military leadership of Pakistan’s growing international isolation and sought consensus on several key actions by the state.
“At that time, this matter was turned into ‘Dawn leaks’,” he said.
PML-N divided on stance
Nawaz’s remarks in addition to sparking a strong reaction from the opposition and media, also sent the PML-N scrambling in attempts to explain his remarks.
PML-N President Shahbaz Sharif ─ and Nawaz’s younger brother ─ issued a statement saying that the news report had “incorrectly attributed certain remarks to PML-N Quaid Nawaz Sharif, which do not represent PML-N’s party policy.”
He said that the PML-N “rejects all assertions, direct or implied, made in the news report.”
The younger Sharif said “the state of Pakistan and all its institutions stand together in the global fight against terrorism.”
“We strongly believe that the interests of Pakistan are supreme to all personal and political interests,” the PML-N president said, adding that “there could and shall never be any compromise on any national interest.”
Even after Shahbaz’s statements, Nawaz had defended his statement, asking “What did I say in the interview that was wrong?”