LAHORE: Pakistan’s former prime minister Nawaz Sharif, his daughter Maryam and other top leaders of the Opposition PML-N party were charged with sedition and other serious cases for allegedly conspiring against the institutions of the army and judiciary, and inciting people against them.
The Lahore police registered a FIR on the complaint of a person on Monday, citing Sharif’s two recent speeches made through a video link from London in which the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz supremo made blistering remarks targeting the powerful Pakistan Army.
Sharif – who left for London late last year after securing bail for medical treatment in the Chaudhry Sugar Mills case and the Al Azizia case – has been targeting the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf-led government led by Prime Minister Imran Khan as well as many state institutions, including the judiciary and the military.
He served as Pakistan’s prime minister three times, first removed by a president in 1993, then by military ruler Pervez Musharraf in 1999.
A court in 2017 ousted him from power over corruption allegations.
Imran Khan, a former cricketer, came to power in 2018.
The case was registered under sections 10 (cyber-terrorism), 120-A (definition of criminal conspiracy), 120-B (criminal conspiracy), 121-A (conspiracy to wage war against Pakistan), 123-A (condemning the creation of the country and advocating the abolishment of its sovereignty), 124-A (sedition) and 153-A (promoting enmity between different groups) of the Pakistan Electronic Crimes Act (2016) and the Pakistan Penal Code (PPC).
In his speeches, 70-year-old Sharif alleged that the Pakistan Army had rigged the 2018 vote that brought Khan to power.
The powerful Army, which has ruled Pakistan for more than half of its 70 plus years of existence, has hitherto wielded considerable power in the matters of security and foreign policy.
Sharif attacked the Army for its alleged involvement in politics, conspiring against elected governments and using the judiciary for its designs.
He alleged that there was “a state above the state in the country and the Opposition’s struggle was not against Prime Minister Khan but against those who had imposed such an incapable and mindless person upon the nation through a manipulated electoral process.”
Sharif also accused Army chief Gen. Qamar Javed Bajwa of ‘taking action against him’.
He disclosed that he was conveyed a message in the middle of the night by then Inter-Service Intelligence (ISI) chief Lt.Gen.
Zaheerul Islam during Khan’s sit-in in Islamabad in 2014 to resign otherwise he would face consequences or martial law could also be imposed.
He said “desired decisions” had been secured from judges through pressure and blackmail, referring to his ouster by the Supreme Court in 2017.
He cited the example of former accountability judge Malik Arshad who convicted him in the Al-Azizia corruption case for seven years imprisonment.
According to the FIR, instead of availing medical treatment in London, Sharif launched a planned conspiracy to defame Pakistan and its institutions – army and judiciary.
Through his speeches he is trying to incite the public against the state institutions.
It alleged that Sharif through his speeches supported the policies of India so that Pakistan remains on the Financial Action Task Force’s (FATF) grey list and gets isolated in the world being ‘a rogue state’.
The Punjab government has announced taking action against the PML-N leadership in the light of the FIR.
“We will arrest the PML-N leaders nominated in this FIR,” Punjab information minister Fayyazul Hasan Chohan said.
He said no criticism of the army and intelligence agencies is allowed under the Constitution.
The FIR also names PML-N leaders Maryam, Ahsan Iqbal, Rana Sanaullah, Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, Pervaiz Rashid, Marriyum Aurangzeb and others who attended the party’s Central Executive Committee and Central Working Committee meetings.
PML-N spokesperson Marriyum Aurangzeb said in a tweet that the FIR registered against the PML-N leadership on sedition charges showed the “selected government of Imran Khan is panicking”.
“Voices fighting for the truth and for the rights of the people can’t be suppressed by such false and baseless cases.
Political opponents, the media and those fighting for human rights and democracy are now being branded as traitors,” she said.
Former prime minister Abbasi dared the federal government to arrest those named in the FIR.
“If you have courage, come and arrest us. This is another black mark in the fictional history books of Pakistan,” he said.