Nawaz Sharif

Nawaz Sharif
نواز شریف
12th, 14th and 20th Prime Minister of Pakistan
In office
5 June 2013  28 July 2017
President Asif Ali Zardari
Mamnoon Hussain
Preceded by Mir Hazar Khan Khoso (Caretaker)
Succeeded by Shahid Khaqan Abbasi
In office
17 February 1997  12 October 1999
President Farooq Leghari
Wasim Sajjad (Acting)
Rafiq Tarar
Preceded by Malik Meraj Khalid (Caretaker)
Succeeded by Pervez Musharraf (Chief Executive)
In office
6 November 1990  18 July 1993
President Ghulam Ishaq Khan
Preceded by Ghulam Mustafa Jatoi (Caretaker)
Succeeded by Moeenuddin Ahmad Qureshi (Caretaker)
Leader of the Opposition
In office
19 October 1993  5 November 1996
Preceded by Benazir Bhutto
Succeeded by Benazir Bhutto
President of Pakistan Muslim League (N)
In office
3 October 2017  21 February 2018
Preceded by Sardar Yaqoob (Interim)
Succeeded by Shehbaz Sharif
In office
27 July 2011  16 August 2017
Preceded by Javed Hashmi
Succeeded by Sardar Yaqoob (Interim)
In office
6 October 1993  12 October 1999
Preceded by Post Created
Succeeded by Kalsoom Nawaz Sharif
Chief Minister of Punjab
In office
9 April 1985  13 August 1990
Governor Ghulam Jilani Khan
Sajjad Hussain Qureshi
Tikka Khan
Preceded by Sadiq Hussain Qureshi
Succeeded by Ghulam Haider Wyne
Personal details
Born Mian Muhammad Nawaz Sharif
(1949-12-25) 25 December 1949
Lahore, Pakistan
Political party Pakistan Muslim League (before 1988)
Islami Jamhoori Ittehad 1988–1993
Pakistan Muslim League (N) 1993–2018
Kulsoom Nawaz (m. 1970)
Children Maryam
Relatives See Sharif family
Alma mater Govt. College University
(B.A. Arts, BBA)
University of the Punjab
Net worth 1.6 billion (US$15 million) (2017)[1]

Mian Muhammad Nawaz Sharif (Urdu/Punjabi: میاں محمد نواز شریف, born 25 December 1949) is a Pakistani businessman and politician who served for three non-consecutive terms as the Prime Minister of Pakistan, and for two terms as the Chief Minister of Punjab.[2]

Born into the upper-middle class Sharif family in Lahore, Sharif is the son of Muhammad Sharif, the founder of Ittefaq and Sharif Group. He is also the elder-brother of Shehbaz Sharif, who served as the Chief Minister of Punjab. According to the Election Commission of Pakistan, Sharif is the one of the wealthiest men in Pakistan, with an estimated net worth of at least Rs. 1.6 billion. Most of Sharif's wealth originates from his businesses in steel construction.

Before entering politics in the 1970s, Sharif studied business at Government College and law at the University of Punjab. In 1981, Sharif was appointed by President Zia as the Minister of Finance for the province of Punjab. Backed by a loose coalition of conservatives, Sharif was elected as the Chief Minister of Punjab in 1985 and re-elected after the end of martial law in 1988. In 1990, Sharif led the conservative Islamic Democratic Alliance and became the 12th Prime Minister of Pakistan.

After being ousted in 1993, when President Ghulam Ishaq Khan dissolved the National Assembly, Sharif served as the Leader of the Opposition to the government of Benazir Bhutto from 1993 to 1996. He returned to premiership after his party (PML-N) was elected in 1997, where he served until his removal in 1999 by military takeover. After serving in prison and exile for more than a decade, he returned to politics in 2011, and led his party into victory for a third time in 2013. In 2017, Sharif was removed from office by the Supreme Court of Pakistan regarding revelations from the Panama Papers case.[3][4][5]

Sharif's family came under judicial scrutiny due to the Panama Papers.[6] In 2018, the Pakistani Supreme Court ruled that Sharif would be disqualified in holding public office for life due to his involvement in the Panama Papers case of 2017.[7][8] On 6 July 2018, the Federal Judicial Complex of Pakistan sentenced Sharif to ten years in prison. Sharif's daughter Maryam Nawaz and her husband Safdar Awan were given prison sentences of seven years and one year, respectively. The two were subsequently arrested on their arrival in Lahore on 13 July.[9] Maryam and Sharif were also fined £2 million and £8 million, respectively.[10]

Personal life and education

Sharif was born in Lahore, Punjab on 25 December 1949.[11][12][13] The Sharif family are Punjabis of Kashmiri origin.[12] His father, Muhammad Sharif, was an upper-middle-class businessman and industrialist whose family had emigrated from Anantnag in Kashmir for business. The settled in the village of Jati Umra in Amritsar district, Punjab, at the beginning of the twentieth century. His mother's family came from Pulwama.[14] After the creation of Pakistan in 1947, Sharif's parents migrated from Amritsar to Lahore.[12] His father followed the teachings of the Ahl-i Hadith.[15] His family owns Ittefaq Group, a multimillion-dollar steel conglomerate[16] and Sharif Group, a conglomerate with holdings in agriculture, transport and sugar mills.[17]

Sharif is married to Kalsoom Nawaz Sharif, who is also of Kashmiri descent.[18] His brother Shehbaz Sharif is the incumbent Chief Minister of Punjab province, while his nephew Hamza Shahbaz Sharif is a member of the National Assembly.[19] Sharif's daughter Maryam Nawaz is currently the chairperson for the prime minister's youth initiative. Maryam is married to politician Muhammad Safdar Awan.[20] His other daughter, Asma Nawaz, is married to Ali Dar, son of Ishaq Dar, the current finance minister of Pakistan.[14][21] The personal residence of the Sharif family, Raiwind Palace, is located in Jati Umra, Raiwind, on the outskirts of Lahore.[22] He also has a residence in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, known as the Sharif Villa, where he lived during his years in exile.[23] His elder son, Hussain Nawaz, is a businessman based in Saudi Arabia and currently resides in the Jeddah house.[24] His younger son, Hassan Nawaz, is also a businessman and lives in London.[25]

He went to Saint Anthony High School. He graduated from the Government College University (GCU) with an art and business degree and then received a law degree from the Law College of Punjab University in Lahore.[26][27]

Sharif underwent heart surgery in May 2016 in London. It was his second open-heart operation.[28][29] His deteriorating health forced him to undergo an open heart surgery only three days before the presentation of the country's annual budget. Many opposition leaders and the legal fraternity, including former Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, raised questions about a possible constitutional crisis in Pakistan. Chaudhry called for electing a new interim Prime Minister to avoid the crisis.[30]

Political career

Early political career

Sharif started his political career during the period of nationalization policies introduced by former Prime minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto.[12] The Sharif family were financially devastated after the family steel business was nationalised, and Sharif jumped into national politics soon afterwards.[12] In 1976 Sharif joined the Pakistan Muslim League, a conservative front rooted in the Punjab province. He initially focused on regaining control of his steel plants from the government.[12] In May 1980 Ghulam Jilani Khan, the recently appointed Governor of the Punjab Province and a former Director-General of the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), initiated a search for new urban leaders; Sharif was one of the men he found and promoted, quickly making him Finance Minister of the Punjab.[31] In 1981, Sharif joined the Punjab Advisory Board under General Zia-ul-Haq and principally rose to public and political prominence as a staunch proponent of the military government of General Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq during the 1980s.[12]

He maintained close relations with Zia-ul-Haq, who soon agreed to return the steel mill which had been lost to nationalisation by Zulfikar Ali Bhutto.[12] Sharif maintained an alliance with General Rahimuddin Khan, who was Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee. During his political career, Sharif also had close ties with the Director-General of ISI, Lieutenant-General (retired) Hamid Gul, who played a substantial role in the formation of the Islami Jamhoori Ittehad (IJI) – a conservative political alliance that supported Sharif.[12]

Sharif invested in Saudi Arabia and other oil-rich Arab countries in the Middle East to rebuild his steel empire.[32][33] According to personal accounts and his time spent with Sharif, American historian Stephen Philips Cohen states in his book Idea of Pakistan: "Nawaz Sharif never forgave Bhutto after his steel empire was lost into the hands of Bhutto; and even after [Bhutto's] terrible end, Sharif publicly refused to forgive the soul of Bhutto or the Pakistan Peoples Party."[32] After coming to national power in 1990, Sharif attempted to reverse Bhutto's nationalisation policies, introducing an economy based on privatisation and economic liberalisation.[32]

Punjab Advisory Council

In 1981, he initially joined as a member of the Punjab Advisory Council[26] under General Ghulam Jilani Khan, the Governor of the Province.[31] Since his early career, Sharif has been a strong vocal of capitalism and strongly opposed its inverse, the nationalisation.[12] In the 1980s, Sharif gained influence on General Zia-ul-Haq who had previously agreed to return his steel industry to him, convincing the General to denationalise and deregulate the industries to improve the economy.[12] Under the Military government of Lieutenant-General Ghulam Jilani Khan, Sharif was appointed as the provisional finance minister and successfully attempted to denationalise all of the government-owned industries to private sector.[26] As provincial finance minister, he presented development-oriented budgets to the military government.[26] As Finance minister, Sharif gained prominence and fame in Punjab Province which also extended the rule of General Ghulam Jillani, as he improved the law and order situation in Punjab Province.[12] Financial policies drafted and approved by Sharif, who was backed by General Zia, Punjab Province benefited with the better financial capital and purchasing power of Punjab Province's locals were greatly and exponentially improved. Punjab Province having Sharif as Finance minister, received many funds by the federal government than any other provinces of Pakistan, which also contributed in economical inequality between Punjab Province and other provinces.[12] Due to its huge financial capital in the 1980s, Punjab Province was Pakistan's richest province and had a better standard of living compared to other provinces' standard.[12]

Chief Minister of Punjab

In 1985, General Ghulam Jilani Khan nominated Sharif as Chief Minister of the Punjab, against the wishes of the new prime minister, Muhammad Khan Junejo, who wanted a rural candidate, Malik Allahyar.[31] Sharif secured a landslide victory during the non-political parties 1985 elections and became Chief Minister of Punjab with the support of the army.[12] He served for two consecutive terms as Chief Minister of Punjab Province, the most populous province of Pakistan.[34] Because of his vast popularity, he received the nickname "Lion of the Punjab".[35] As chief minister, he stressed welfare and development activities and the maintenance of law and order.[26]

The provincial martial law Administrator of Punjab Province, Lieutenant-General Ghulam Jilani Khan sponsored the government of Sharif, and Sharif built his ties with the senior army generals who would remain supportive and sponsored Sharif's ministership.[26] General Jilani Khan made much headway in beautifying Lahore, extending military infrastructure, and muting political opposition, while Sharif maintained the law and order in the province, expanded the economical infrastructure that not only benefited the army and himself but also the people of Punjab province.[26] In 1988, General Zia dismissed the government of hand-picked Prime minister Muhammad Khan Junejo, and called for new elections.[26] However, with all the provisional and the national assemblies were dissolved, General Zia-ul-Haq retained Sharif as the Chief Minister of Punjab Province, and continued Sharif's support until his death and the elections were held in 1988.[26]

1988 elections

After General Zia's death in August 1988, Zia's political party–Pakistan Muslim League (Pagara Group)–split into two factions.[36] Sharif led the Zia loyalist Fida Group against the Junejo Group, led by prime minister Muhammad Khan Junejo.[36] The Fida Group later took on the mantle of the PML while the Junejo Group became known as the JIP.[36] The two parties along with seven other right-wing conservatives and religious parties united with encouragement and funding from the ISI to form the Islami Jamhoori Ittehad (IJI).[36] The alliance was co-led by Ghulam Mustafa Jatoi and Sharif to oppose Benazir Bhutto's PPP in the elections.[36] The IJI gained substantial majorities in the Punjab and Sharif was re-elected Chief Minister of Punjab.[36]

In December 1989, Sharif decided to remain in the provincial Punjab Assembly rather than hold a seat in the National Assembly.[37] In early 1989, the PPP government failed to unseat Sharif through a no-confidence motion in the Punjab Assembly.[36] Sharif retained control by a vote of 152 to 106.[36]

First term as prime minister (1990–93)

The conservatives for the first time in the country's history, came into the power under a democratic system, under the leadership of Sharif.[38] Nawaz Sharif became the 12th Prime Minister of Pakistan on 1 November 1990 as well as head of IJI and succeeded Benazir Bhutto as Prime minister.[38] IJI had been created and funded by the Zia loyalists in the ISI; it received Rs 15 million from the ISI.[39] He campaigned on a conservative platform and vowed to reduce government corruption.[38] He focused on improving the nation's infrastructure and spurred the growth of digital telecommunication.[38] He privatised government banks and opened the door for further industrial privatisation, and disbanded Zulfikar Bhutto's policies.[38] He legalised foreign money exchange to be transacted through private money exchangers.[38] His privatisation policies were continued by both Benazir Bhutto in the mid-1990s and Shaukat Aziz as well in the 2000s.[38]

Conservative policies

Sharif took steps to initiate Islamization and conservatism at once.[38] The continuation of conservative change in Pakistan society was encouraged, a policy started by Zia ul Haq. Reforms were made to introduce fiscal conservatism, supply-side economics, bioconservatism and religious conservatism in Pakistan.[38]

He raised the issue of Kashmir in international forums and worked toward a peaceful transfer power in Afghanistan so as to help end the rampant trading of illicit drugs and weapons across the border.[38] Sharif intensified General Zia-ul-Haq's controversial Islamization policies, and introduced Islamic Laws such as the Shariat Ordinance and Bait-ul-Maal (to help poor orphans widows, etc.); Moreover, he gave tasks to the Ministry of Religion to prepare reports and recommendations for steps taken toward Islamization. He ensured the establishment of three committees.[38]

  • Ittehad-e-bain-ul-Muslemeen (Unity of Muslims Bloc)
  • Nifaz-e-Shariat Committee (Sharia Establishment Committee)
  • Islamic Welfare Committee

He believed in forming a Muslim Bloc by uniting all Central Asian Muslim countries thus he extended the membership of Economic Cooperation Organization (ECO) to all Central Asian countries.[38] Sharif was confident that he had majority in the assembly thus he ruled with considerable confidence. He had disputes with three successive army chiefs.[38] Sharif took the issue of environmentalism as part of his government platform, and established the Environmental Protection Agency in 1997, as part of his environmental conservatism policy.[40]

Domestic issues

Following the imposition and passing of the Resolution 660, Resolution 661, and the Resolution 665, Sharif sided with the United Nations on Iraqi invasion of Kuwait.[41] A major international incident took place in the Middle East with Iraq invading the Kuwait which dismayed the world. Sharif's government criticised Iraq for invading the fellow Muslim country, which strained Pakistan's relationships with Iraq.[41] The relationships continued to be strained as Pakistan seek to tighten its relations with Iran, and his foreign policy continued by Benazir Bhutto, Pervez Musharraf until the removal of Saddam Hussein in 2003.[41]

Sharif contended with former Chief of Army Staff General Mirza Aslam Beg over the 1991 Gulf War (See Operation Desert Storm).[41] Under the direction of General Beg, Pakistan Armed Forces actively participated in the conflict and the Army Special Service Group and the Naval Special Service Group were rushed to Saudi Arabia to provide intense security to Saudi royal family.[41] Sharif also contended the upcoming Chief of Army Staff General Asif Nawaz over the paramilitary operation in Sindh Province (See Operation Clean-Up).[41]

Sharif, during his first term, found it difficult working with the PPP and the Mutahidda Qaumi Movement (MQM), a potent force in Karachi.[42] The MQM and PPP opposed Sharif widely due to his focus on beautifying Punjab and Kashmir while neglecting Sindh.[42] The MQM, a liberal force, also opposed Sharif's conservatism. The clash between liberalism and conservatism soon erupted forces in 1992 when political tension began to arise in which both party renegading ideological war against each other.[42] Despite MQM had formed government with Sharif, more and more problems were mounted between Sharif and the MQM in 1992.[42] Sharif's government members passed the resolution in the Parliament, to launch the paramilitary operation to end the cold war between PML-N and MQM.[42] During this time, the centre left Pakistan Peoples Party remained quiet and neutral while watching the impact of the cold war between liberal and conservative forces.[42] Prime minister Sharif also contended this upcoming operation with Chief of Army Staff General Asif Navaz over the paramilitary operation in Sindh Province (See Operation Clean-Up).[41] Launched in 1992, violence erupted in Karachi and brought an economic halt in the country that dismantled Sharif's industrialisation and investment that was being brought by Sharif.[42] Benazir Bhutto, during the course of this episode, remained silent as she too had opposed the MQM.[42] His operation continued by Benazir also, but due to amid pressure exerted by her brother Murtaza Bhutto, the operation came to halt.[42] The period of 1992–1994 is considered the bloodiest years in the history of the city, with many went missing.[42]

During his second term, Altaf Hussain decided to join with Sharif and tried to reach a compromise. Soon after the 1997 parliamentary elections, MQM joined with Sharif but this alliance fall apart following the assassination of Hakim Said.[42] Therefore, the Prime minister kicked the MQM out of the government on immediate effect and assumed the control of Karachi. MQM was forced to continued its political activities underground.[42] This action led Sharif to claim the exclusive mandate of entire Pakistan, and for the first time in his political career, Sharif and his party had the control of Sindh, Balochistan, Northwest Frontier, Kashmir and the Punjab Provinces.[42]

Industrialization and privatisation

Shortly after assuming the office of prime minister, Sharif announced his economic policy under the programme called, the "National Economic Reconstruction Programme" (NERP).[38] This programme introduced an extreme level of the Western-styled capitalist economic system.[38]

Acknowledged since that the unemployment had become Pakistan's greatest disadvantage in economic growth and that only industrial and privatisation growth could solve the economic slow down.[38] An intensified Privatization Programme was commenced, embarked and presided by Sharif, in a vision to "turning Pakistan into a (South) Korea by encouraging greater private saving and investment to accelerate economic growth.".[43] In 1990, Sharif announced the nuclear policy and aimed to continue the peaceful atomic programme benefit for country's economic infrastructure. Sharif expanded and industrialised the nuclear energy program in entire country and peaceful and economic infrastructure was extensively built by him by the 1990s.[38] Many of the nuclear medicine and nuclear engineering projects were completed under his government as part of Sharif's Atoms for Peace program.

The privatisation programme came as a direct response to Zulfikar Ali Bhutto and the Peoples party led by Benazir and, for instance, Sharif's spontaneous privatisation programme was swift as nationalisation programme of peoples party in the 1970s.[44] However Prime minister Sharif lacked the charisma and personality of Zulfikar Ali Bhutto but countered Bhutto's ideology with full force, by imitating him.[44] During the period of 1990–93, around 115 nationalised industries were put under private-ownership management but this programme came with highest surrounding controversies with lacked competition as the programme was largely controlled by favoured insider.[44] The recklessness and favouritism shown in privatisation of the industrial and banking units by Prime minister Sharif was to become the hallmark and the rise of strong business oligarch who have concentrated enormous assets, further increasing the wealth gap in Pakistan and contributing to the political instability.[44]

Sharif also upgraded the Islamic laws such as Shariat Ordinance and Bait-ul-Maal (to help poor orphans and widows) to drive the country on the model of an Islamic welfare state.[38] Sharif family was an affectee of Zulfikar Ali Bhutto's nationalisation policy.[38] A number of important industries, such as Pakistan National Shipping Corporation, National Electric Power Regulatory Authority, Pakistan International Airlines, Pakistan Telecommunication Corporation, and Pakistan State Oil were opened up to the private sector.[38] In 1990, Prime minister Sharif successfully privatised the National Development Finance Corporation[38]

He introduced and inaugurated several large-scale projects to stimulate the economy, such as the Ghazie-Barotah Hydropower plant.[38] However, unemployment remained a challenge, therefore Sharif imported thousands of privatised Yellow-cab taxis to many young Pakistanis, but this program came at a cost.[38] Few of the loans were repaid by the government and Sharif found it difficult to privatise these taxis at low rate, since the young and poor could not afford at higher price.[38] However, Sharif indeed privatised these taxis at low rate and his steel industry was forced to pay the remaining cost.[38] During his first and second term, Sharif intensified his policies of industrialisation and privatisation of major industries that were nationalised by former Prime minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto.[38] Undoing what was previously done in the 1970s remained a challenge for Sharif but, despite the economical slow down, Sharif reverted major policies of Bhutto and under short span of time, 90% of the industries were industrialised and privatised by him.[38] This radical move had a positive impact on country's economy and the economy progressed at an appropriate level.[38] Sharif policies were also continued by Benazir Bhutto, who nationalised only those industries that needed a government bail out plan, and by Pervez Musharraf and Shaukat Aziz in the 2000s who managed to privatised all of the major industries by the end his term in 2008.[38]

In his second term, Prime Minister Sharif built Pakistan's first major motorway which is known as M2 Motorway (3MM), often called the Autobahn of South Asia.[38] This semi-government and semi-private mega-project was completed in November 1997 at a cost of US$989.12 million.[38] His critics questioned the layout of the highway, criticizing its excessive length, its being away from the important cities, and the absence of link roads even with important towns. Furthermore, the funds originally allocated to the construction of Indus Highway linking Peshawar with Karachi were shifted to M2 Motorway thus benefiting his native Punjab and Kashmir provinces at the cost of other provinces. When the true nature of Sharif's motives were exposed, the people of other provinces were extremely displeased, leading to discordance and disharmony among provinces. The welfare of other provinces, notable Sindh and Balochistan Province, were not seriously taken by Sharif and his ruling chief ministers and people of these provinces were disenchanted with him. After the completion of this mega project, Sharif's policies were undermined by lack of capital for investments.[38] There was an influx of foreign capital when he loosened foreign exchange restrictions and opened Karachi Stock Exchange to foreign capital, but the government remained short of funds for investments.[38]

During his first term, Sharif focused his industrialisation on Punjab and Kashmir Provinces, mild and few projects were completed in Khyber and Balochistan provinces. While, the Sindh Province did not benefit with his industrialisation.[38] After receiving intense criticism by Pakistan Peoples Party and the liberal-secular Mutahidda Qaumi Movement (MQM), Sharif launched the Orangi Cottage Industrial Zone which was completed and finally inaugurated by him.[38] However, prime minister's reputation in Sindh was widely damaged because of his focused on beautifying Lahore and Kashmir while he neglected other provinces.[38] Sharif's industrialisation was also targeted by his opponents as it was focused and circled only on Punjab and Kashmir, Sharif's native provinces.[45] His opponents argued that Sharif, as prime minister, obtained permits for building factories for himself and his business.[38] Sharif was also blamed for expanding and finance Armed Forces' secretive industrial conglomerate and, is also blamed for bribing the generals to protect himself.[45] Sharif gave strong and vehement criticism to former Prime minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto's socialist economics policies, as citing as "lamentable state of Pakistan".[45] His privatisation policies were staunchly criticised by former science advisor Dr. Mubashir Hassan, calling it Sharif's privatisation "unconstitutional".[45] Other PPP members also stood the fact that nationalisation measures were protected by the Parliament who gave this policy a constitutional picture and status. The Peoples Party felt the privatisation policies were illegal, had taken place without parliamentary approval and parliament was not taken in confidence.[45]

By the end of the Sharif government's second term, the economy was in turmoil. The government faced serious structural issues and financial problems; inflation and foreign debt stood at an all-time high, and unemployment in Pakistan had reached its highest-ever point. Pakistan had debts of $32bn against reserves of little more than $1bn. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) had suspended aid, demanding the country's finances be sorted out. Sharif attempted to put the Stock Exchanges under government control, but that move backfired brutally on him; by the time he was deposed, the country was heading for financial default.

Science policy

Sharif took steps for intense government control of science in Pakistan and the projects needed his authorisation.[46] In 1991, Sharif founded and authorised the Pakistan Antarctic Programme under the scientific directions of National Institute of Oceanography (NIO), with the Pakistan Navy's Weapons Engineering Division, and first established the Jinnah Antarctic Station and the Polar Research Cell. In 1992, Pakistan became an Associate Member of Scientific Committee on Antarctic Research which was signed by his Science Adviser Munir Ahmed Khan at United Nations. As like Benazir, the ongoing nuclear weapons and the energy program remained one of his top priority.[46] Sharif countered the international pressure, and followed the same suit as Benazir's, and refused to make compromise to halt the program despite the United States having offered a large economic aid to Pakistan.[46] Unlike Benazir, Sharif's nuclear policy was seen less aggressive towards India and focused the atomic programme for the benefit of public usage and civil society. Unlike Benazir's nuclear policy, his set forth nuclear policy was to build civil and peaceful nuclear power, and with that vision, Sharif intensively used the integrated atomic programme for medical and economic purposes. His nuclear policy was viewed by experts as vintage Atoms for Peace program— the United States' 1950s program to use the nuclear energy for civil purposes, and to promote peaceful nuclear technology in the world as well.

In 1993, Sharif authorised to establish the Institute of Nuclear Engineering (INE) and promoted his policy for the peaceful use of nuclear energy. On 28 July 1997, Sharif declared 1997 a year of science in Pakistan, and personally allotted funds for the 22nd INSC College on Theoretical Physics. In 1999, Sharif signed the executive decree, declaring the day of 28 May as the National Science Day in Pakistan.

Nuclear policy

On 7 November 1990, the newly elected prime minister announced his nuclear policy and in public television, Sharif responded that: "The peaceful [atomic] programme of which... it would be accelerated to accommodate growing [nuclear] [e]nergy needs and to make up for rising [oil] prices. And, of course, (Pakistan) will to construct new nuclear power plants."[47] On 26 November, Sharif authorised talks with the US to solve the nuclear crises after the US had tightened its embargo on Pakistan, prompting Sharif to send his government's Treasure Minister Sartaj Aziz to held talks on Washington.[47] It was widely reported in Pakistan that the US Assistant Secretary of State Teresita Schaffer had told the Foreign Minister Shahabzada Yaqub Khan to halt the uranium enrichment programme.[47]

In December, France's Commissariat à l'énergie atomique agreed to provide a commercial 900MW power plant, but plans did not materialise as France wanted Pakistan to provide entire financial funds for the plant.[47] On December, the financial embargo was placed and the country's economy felt a distress that prompted Sharif to replace his Treasure minister.[47] Sharif then used Munir Ahmad Khan to have convinced IAEA to allow Pakistan for a nuclear plant in Chashman where Khan intensively lobbied in IAEA for the nuclear power plant.[47] In December 1990, IAEA allowed Pakistan to established CHASNUPP-I, signed with China; the IAEA also gave approval of upgrading of the KANUPP-I in 1990.[47] During his first term, Sharif intensified his non-nuclear weapon policy and strictly followed the policy of deliberate nuclear ambiguity which was also continued by Benazir as well.[47] Responding to US embargo, Sharif publicly announced that: "Pakistan possessed no [atomic] bomb... Pakistan would be happy to sign the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) but it must be provided "first" to India to do the same."[47]

Sharif intensified his move to enhance the Pakistan's integrated nuclear development and authorised projects that seemed to be important in his point of views.[46] Sharif also promoted the peaceful nuclear energy programme, and signed the CHASNUPP-I reactor with People's Republic of China for the commercial electricity use.[46] Sharif also responded to use the nuclear development in more of economical usage, benefited for the country's economy and its extension to the civil society.[46] His policies to make the nuclear program for economical use was also continued by Benazir Bhutto and Pervez Musharraf.[46]

1992 co-operatives societies scandal

Sharif also lost support from the Punjab Province and Kashmir Province as well when the co-operatives societies scandal became public.[38] Co-operatives societies accept deposits from members and can legally make loans only to members for purposes that are to the benefit of the society and its members.[38] However, mismanagement of these societies led to a collapse in which millions of Pakistanis lost money in 1992.[38] In Sharif's native Punjab Province and the Kashmir Province, around 700,000 people mostly poor people lost all their savings when the states cooperatives societies went bankrupt. It was soon discovered that the society had granted billions of rupees to the Ittefaq Group of Industries— Sharif's owned Steel mill. Though Ittefaq Group's management hurriedly repaid the loans to the affectees, but the Prime minister's reputation was severely damaged.[38]

1993 constitutional crisis

In 1993, Sharif survived a serious constitutional crises when it was reported that Sharif developed serious issues over the authority with another national conservative president Ghulam Ishaq Khan.[48] Before 1993 Parliamentary election, President Ghulam Ishaq Khan on 18 April 1993, with the support of the Pakistan Army, used his reserve powers (58-2b) (See 8th Amendment) to dissolve the National Assembly, the lower house. Khan appointed Mir Balakh Sher as the interim prime minister. When the news reached to Sharif, he forcefully rejected to accept this act and moved to Supreme Court of Pakistan, an apex court in Pakistan. On 26 May 1993, Sharif returned to power after the Supreme Court ruled the Presidential Order as unconstitutional and reconstituted the National Assembly on its immediate effect. The Court ruled, 10–1, that the president could dissolve the assembly only if a constitutional breakdown had occurred and that the government's incompetence or corruption was irrelevant.[48] Justice Sajjad Ali Shah was the only dissenting judge, he later became 13th Chief Justice of Pakistan.[49]

End of first term

However, issues with the president over the authority circled and a subsequent political stand off was instigated between president and Prime minister. Finally, in July 1993, Sharif resigned under pressure from the Pakistan Armed Forces but negotiated a settlement that resulted in the removal of president Ghulam Ishaq Khan as well. In July 1993, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee General Shamim Allam and the Chief of Army Staff General Abdul Vahied Kakar forced president Ishaq Khan to resign from the presidency and subsequently ended the political standoff. Under the close scrutiny of the Pakistan Armed Forces, the new interim and transitional government was formed and new parliamentary election were held after three months.[48]

Parliamentary opposition (1993–96)

New elections were held in the year of 1993 and the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), under Benazir Bhutto, returned to power for the third time. Sharif conceded defeat and offered his full co-operation as Leader of the Opposition but soon the PPP and PML-N again came at loggerheads in the Parliament. Benazir's government found it difficult to act effectively in the face of opposition from Sharif. Benazir Bhutto also faced problems with her younger brother, Murtaza Bhutto, in her stronghold, Sindh Province.[48]

Sharif joined with Benazir's younger brother Murtaza Bhutto and formed a political axis that worked tirelessly to undermine Benazir Bhutto's government and tapped an anti-corruption wave in entire Pakistan. The Nawaz-Bhutto axis targeted the Benazir Bhutto's government corruption in major state corporations and blamed Benazir's government for slowing down the economic progress. In 1994 to 1995, Sharif with Murtaza Bhutto began a "Train March", a phenomenon founded by Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, taking them from Karachi to Peshawar during which huge crowds listened to their critical speeches. Sharif played a major part in organising labour and industrial strikes throughout Pakistan in September and October 1994. following the controversial death of Murtaza Bhutto in 1996, amid protests and spontaneous demonstrations in Sindh Province had led the Benazir's government losing control of the province. By 1996, Benazir Bhutto had become widely unpopular, in entire Pakistan, because of her high levels of government corruption and alleged involvement of her spouse role in her younger brother's death which led to their ouster in October 1996.[48]

Second term as prime minister (1997–99)

By 1996, the national economy had come under intense situation and deadlock, and an economic failure was soon near.[50] The continuous and large scale of government corruption made by Benazir Bhutto and her appointed government ministers had deteriorated the country's economy at the extreme level.[50] In the 1997 parliamentary elections, Sharif and his Pakistan Muslim League (PML-N) won a landslide victory in the elections, defeating Benazir Bhutto and her People's party.[50] Commenting on his victory, the Pakistan media and the people of Pakistan hoped that Sharif would provide a conservative but a stable government benefit for Pakistan as he promised earlier.[50] Besides Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, no other leader, in the history of Pakistan, has enjoyed his level of popularity, and received the exclusive mandate from all over the Pakistan to improve the all over conditions in Pakistan at same time.[50] As commentary, 1997 election resulted to boost Sharif's popularity and was mandate onerous task to improve the country's economy.[50] Sharif defeated Benazir Bhutto with overwhelmingly voting numbers and it was the worst defeat of Bhutto and People's Party since its inception.[50] After the elections, Sharif arrived in Islamabad, where he met with large crowd of spontaneous and jubilant people supporting for Sharif; it took more than 13 hours for Sharif to reach Islamabad to take the oath.[50][51] Sharif was sworn as prime minister in the early morning of on 17 February to serve a non-consecutive second term.[52] With the passing of the 14th amendment, Sharif emerged as the most powerful elected prime minister in the country since its independence in 1947, and no other leader has enjoyed this level of extreme popularity.[50]

Sharif served as Leader of the Opposition between 1993 and 1996 and led the Muslim League to a supermajority in the National Assembly.[53] His government amendment the constitution to restrict's the powers of the presidency to dismiss governments.[54] His second administration is notable for holding Pakistan's first nuclear tests in response to neighbouring India's second nuclear tests as part of the tit-for-tat policy.[55]

When Western countries suspended foreign aid, Sharif froze the country's foreign currency reserves to prevent further capital flight, but this only worsened economic conditions.[56][57]

Atomic policy

During the 1997 elections, Sharif promised to follow his policy of nuclear ambiguity with the programme more benefited to people, and to use nuclear energy to stimulate the power in the country.[58] However, on 17 September 1997, Sharif acknowledged the fact that atomic bomb project which was started and successfully concluded in 1978, his interview was taken by the STN News which was broadcast in entire country before his state visit to United States. Sharif maintained that:

The issue of [atomic] capability is an established fact. [H]ence the debate on this [atomic] [i]ssue should come to an end.... Since 1972, [P]akistan had progressed significantly, and we have left that stage (developmental) far behind. Pakistan will not be made a "hostage" to India by signing the CTBT, before (India).

Nawaz Sharif, Prime minister of Pakistan, statement on September 7, 1997, [58]

On 1 December, after returning from United States, Sharif then told the Daily Jang and The News International that Pakistan will immediately sign and become a party of Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT) but, if and only if, India signed, ratified and, becomes a part of CTBT first.[58] Under his leadership, the nuclear program had become a vital part of Pakistan's economical policy as the program had become back-bone of economy of Pakistan in 1998.[46]

1998 nuclear tests

The executive authorisation of Pakistan's nuclear testing programme was an important turning point in his political career that would bring his image into world prominence.[56]

In his first term, Sharif funded Pakistan's nuclear, missile and space programme, as well as allotted funds for the science research, particularly its extension to defence. In May 1998, soon after Indian nuclear tests, Sharif vowed that his country would give a suitable reply to the Indians.[59] On 14 May, Leader of the Opposition Benazir Bhutto and MQM publicly called for the nuclear tests and the public calls for the nuclear test as well began to take place in Pakistan.[60] When India tested its nuclear weapons the second time, it caused a great alarm in Pakistan and pressure mounted to build on the Prime minister. On 15 May 1998, Sharif called and chaired a National Security Council meeting in Prime minister Secretariat.[60] The Pakistan Armed Forces left the matter to elected Prime minister, though Prime minister Sharif put the Pakistan Armed Forces on high-alert.[60] The discussions went on for a few hours and encompassed the financial, diplomatic, military, strategic and national security concerns.[60] At this sensitive meeting, it has had two important agendas; first, whether or not Pakistan should conduct its nuclear tests to respond to Indian nuclear aggression. And, secondly, if the nuclear testing program does go ahead then which of the government science organisations— the Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission or Kahuta Research Laboratories— conduct the nuclear testing as well as leading the nuclear testing program.

Sheikh Rasheed and Raja Zafarul Haq, were the first people to propose the tests, while, Sartaj Aziz who was the Treasure Minister that time, was the only person in the meeting who opposed the tests on financial grounds due to the economic recession, the low foreign exchange reserves of the country and the effect of inevitable economic sanctions which would be imposed on Pakistan if it carried out the tests. When it comes to voting, the prime minister did not oppose or propose the tests. The remainder spoke in favour of conducting the tests.[60]

Nuclear physicist Dr. Ishfaq Ahmad of Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission (PAEC) and metallurgical engineer Dr. Abdul Qadeer Khan of Kahuta Research Laboratories equally presented their point of views, and approached for the permission from the Prime minister.[60] The meeting concluded without any resolution of the two agenda points. On 16 May, senior scientist Dr. Abdul Qadeer Khan had briefed the prime minister on key weapon-grade explosives issues and also briefed on the latest situation on Pakistan's different weapon-testing laboratories at that time.[59] On the morning of 17 May 1998, Sharif summoned Dr. Ishfaq Ahmad and asked him for his opinion on two points discussed on 15 May.[60] Ahmed told the prime minister that the decision to test or not to test was that of the government of Pakistan.[60] Dr. Ahmad also acknowledged that PAEC was ready for the capability of carrying out the tests.[60] Sharif then concluded that eyes of the world were focused on Pakistan and failure to conduct the tests would put the credibility of the Pakistan's nuclear deterrence programme in doubt.[60] Dr. Ahmad then said, "Conducting a nuclear test is a highly political decision, and no matter the wish of scientific community may be, the political leadership of the country will have its say.... Mr. Prime Minister, take a [decision], then I give you the [g]uarantee of success."[60] Initially, the Prime minister waited to see the world reaction on India's nuclear tests, while observing the embargo placed on Indian economy, which had no placed no effects.[61] Prime minister Sharif, at first, was hesitant towards the nuclear test program and its economical turn out if the tests are ordered.[61] Few days after the Indian tests, Indian Home Minister Lal Kishanchand Advani and Defence Minister George Fernandes issued foolish taunts and threatening statements towards Pakistan, which angered the prime minister.[61]

On 18 May, Prime minister Sharif ordered PAEC to make preparation for the tests, but remain on stand-by for the final decision.[60] In his own words, Sharif called dr. Ishfaq Ahmad and ordered him, "Conduct the explosion!".[56] Simultaneously, Sharif's ordered, the XII Corps, Southern Naval Command, National Logistics Cell, and No. 6 Squadron Globe Trotters were put on high-alert to provide the necessary support to the PAEC in this regard.[56] On 21 May, Sharif issued orders to conduct nuclear tests as a suitable reply to India, and authorised the nuclear weapon testing program the same day.[61] A Boeing-737 airline from Pakistan International Airlines was readily made available for PAEC scientists, engineers, and technicians to Balochistan.[60]

Dr. Abdul Qadeer Khan and scientists and engineers from KRL were also told to be stay alert and were also sent to Balochistan along with PAEC.[60] On the early morning of 27 May 1998, the ISI spotted camouflage F-16s were spotted conducting exercises; the ISI quickly got the word that the Israeli fighters, flying on behalf of India were inbound to take out Pakistan's nuclear facilities.[62] When Sharif heard the news, he angrily ordered PAF to be scrambled and rolled its nuclear bombs out of their shelters in preparation to launch. But on the night of 27 May, the United States and other nations assured Nawaz Sharif that "Pakistan was safe, the Israeli attack never materialized", according to political scientist dr. Shafik H. Hashmi.[62]

Finally, Pakistan carried out its successful nuclear tests on 28 May 1998 (codename Chagai-I), and on 30 May 1998 (codename Chagai-II), in response to the Indian detonation of six nuclear devices roughly two weeks before.[56][60] After these test, the Prime minister appeared on Pakistan Television Corporation and took the nation on confidence and addressed the world:

If [Pakistan] had wanted, she (Pakistan) would have conducted nuclear tests 15–20 years ago.... but the abject poverty of the people of the region dissuaded... [Pakistan] from doing so. But the [w]orld, instead of putting pressure on (India)... not to take the destructive road.... imposed all kinds of sanctions on [Pakistan] for no fault of her..... If (Japan) had its own nuclear capability.. (cities of)... Hiroshima and Nagasaki would not have suffered atomic destruction at the hands of the... United States.

Nawaz Sharif—Prime minister, on May 30, 1998, televised at PTV, [63]

Economical effects of tests

After weeks of anticipation, Pakistan surprised the world by conducting its own nuclear tests.[60] Sharif's popularity in Pakistan increased. While he was being hailed as nationalist, Sharif proclaimed an emergency on the same day as these nuclear tests were conducted, which dismayed the public. All foreign currency accounts in Pakistani banks were frozen to minimise the effects of economic sanctions. This was detrimental to the account holders.

He put the Pakistan Armed Forces on high alert to defend country's nuclear installations. He justified the tests on national security grounds, as they demonstrated Pakistan's nuclear deterrent capabilities against an armed Indian nuclear programme. Under his premiership, Pakistan became the first Muslim country and seventh nation to become a nuclear power.[60]

Political effects of tests

In spite of the intense international criticism and the steady decline in foreign investment and trade, these six nuclear tests were popular domestically and the Sharif's popularity and the PML (N)'s prestige rose in response.[60] After appearing on national television and taking the nation of confidence, the tests were greeted with great jubilation and large-scale approval of Sharif's decision by the civil society.[64] On 30 May, Sharif appeared after immediately the tests, and informed the world, "Today, we have settled a score and have carried out six successful nuclear tests".[56] Newspapers and television channels praised Sharif and his government for its bold decision; editorials were full of praise for the country's leadership and advocated the development of an operational nuclear deterrence for the country, despite a small-scale anti-nuclear sentiments criticised the nuclear testings which was forcefully silenced by the emerging public opinion favouring Sharif and the nuclear tests.[64] Soon after the atomic tests on 1515hrs (28 May) and 1315hrs (30 May), Sharif immediately called for a joint-parliamentary session at Parliament House Building on emergency basis calling all of the public legislators to the Parliament from the entire country to gather at the Parliament, where Sharif would take the parliament on confidence after presenting a short speech.[63]

On the day of atomic testing, the military and public policy makers, lawmakers and legislators, senior journalists, and the influential members of the civil society at the Parliament strongly chaired for the tests, loud slogans and songs of "Pakistan Zindabad" (long live Pakistan) were sung, and the tribute to Zulfikar Ali Bhutto was heavily paid by the parliamentarians from all political parties of Pakistan.[60] The parliamentarians and the Leader of the Opposition Benazir Bhutto had also congratulated prime minister Nawaz Sharif and the Pakistan Armed Forces thanking for making its "bold decision" in spite of whatever the economical outcomes were.[63] Political scientist and geostrategist Javed Hashmi was clearly heard saying: "Yes! Yes!.... We have done it.", while he was tapping his parliament desk. The Peoples Party also chaired this moment when Ameen Faheem was heard saying: "We gave the same medicines to [Indians].". On its effects on India, the politicians in Indian parliament erupted into shouting as opposition leaders blamed the government for starting a nuclear arms race.[56]

The Pakistan Academy of Sciences also thanked Sharif and his government for having been given the opportunity to prove their capabilities.[64] As in return, Sharif established the National Center for Theoretical Physics (NCTP) and inaugurated the Abdus Salam Museum in 1999.[64] According to Benazir Bhutto who calculated her rival's level of political popularity after ordering the tests asserted, that these tests had erased the existed doubts and fear from the minds of people of Pakistan who questioned Pakistan's deterrence capability after 1971 collapse.[65] Even as of today, Sharif and his party takes all the credit for authorising these tests, and annually held celebrating public functions in all over the country. Without any doubts, Sharif posed to become Pakistan's most favourable and strongest Prime minister since 1974, and the political prestige of Nawaz Sharif was at its peak point at the time when the country had gone nuclear.[64]

The nuclear tests remained highly popular in Pakistan which many in Pakistan saw as dignified status for the Pakistan in the world community. Despite disagreement with Sharif, his rivals and opposition parties backed Sharif and congratulated him for his "bold decision".[63]

Sharif was awarded an Ig Nobel prize for his "aggressively peaceful explosions of atomic bombs".[66]

Space programme

Due to economic distress, Sharif halted the national space programme, and refused to allot any funds due to his government was struggling to provide funds for more extended programmes. Unlike Benazir who continued the space programme despite economic slow down, the Space Research Commission was forced to delay the launch of its well-developed satellite, Badr-II(B) which was completed in 1997. Delaying the satellite's launch caused frustration of the scientific community who openly criticised Prime minister's inability to promote science in the country. Senior scientists and engineers attributed this failure as "Sharif's personal corruption" that effected the national security of the country. It was not until 2001, two years since Sharif was dismissed; the satellite was finally launched from Baikonur Cosmodrome 10 December 2001 at 0915hrs by Space Research Commission.

Foreign policy

Sharif strengthened relations with the Muslim world, Turkey, and Europe.[67] The year he was elected, Sharif made a state visit to Malaysia and Singapore where Sharif signed economic and free trade agreements with both countries.[67] It was a trilateral trade bloc in South Asia and premiers of Singapore, Malaysia, and Pakistan had successfully signed the agreement.[67] Following the agreement, the work on comprehensive framework to enhance collaboration in defence, economic and private sector was launched and completed in 1998.[67] One of the core issues was Malaysia's agreement on sharing its space technology to Pakistan.[67] Both Malaysia and Singapore assured their support for Pakistan to join Asia–Europe Meeting.[67] However, it was not until 2008, Pakistan and India became part of the treaty.[67]

In January 1998, Prime Minister Sharif paid a state visit to South Korea, where he successfully signed bilateral and economical agreements with South Korean President Kim Young-sam.[67] Sharif also urged North Korea to make peace and improve its ties with South Korea; his statement caused a diversion in Pakistan–North Korea relations.[67] In April 1998, Sharif went on to visit Italy, Germany, Poland, and Belgium to promote economic ties.[67] He said in Brussels at an official reception, "We [Pakistan] [s]eek understanding and cooperation with Europe".[67] He signed a number of agreements to enlarge economic co-operation with Italy and Belgium, besides an agreement with European Union (EU) for the protection of intellectual, industrial and commercial property rights.[67] In February 1997, the prime minister had meeting with Jiang Zemin, the Chinese president and Li Peng, the Premier, for economic co-operation.[67] Two conferences were specially organised in Beijing and Hong Kong to promote Chinese investment in Pakistan.[67]

However, Sharif's effort seemed to be wasted when Sharif ordered the nuclear tests in 1998. Following those tests, the foreign policy of Pakistan was much in trouble position since its 1971 disaster.[67] Pakistan, at United Nations, failed to gather any support from its allies.[67] Trade agreements were abrogated by Europe, United States, and Asian bloc.[67] While Sharif was praised for carrying out tests domestically. Sharif was heavily criticised for ordering internationally.[67] Pakistan's nuclear weapons and energy programme was targeted on multiple times over its involvement for spreading the nuclear proliferation. United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia, however did not criticised Pakistan but both neither issued any statement.[67] On 7 June 1998, Sharif visited UAE for talks on the situation in South Asia after nuclear tests in the region.[67] He thanked the government for their support after India conducted five nuclear tests on 11 and 13 May.[67] The major shift in his conservative foreign policy was notice on 11 June 1998, when Sharif authorised a secret meeting of Pakistan Ambassador to United Nations Inam-ul-Haq and Pakistan Ambassador to the United States Dr. Maliha Lodhi, to chair a meeting with their Israeli counterparts, the Israel Ambassador to the United States Eliyahu Ben-Elissar and the Israel Ambassador to United Nations Dore Gold, at a seven star hotel in New York, United States.[58] The Prime minister sent a secret courier to Israel and to his Israeli counterpart Benjamin Netanyahu (now current Prime minister), though his diplomats, where Pakistan assured Israel that Pakistan will not transfer nuclear technology or materials to Iran or to other Middle Eastern countries.[58] In June 1998, Israel had directed a secret courier to Pakistan that Israeli officials had feared that Iranian Foreign Minister Kamal Kharrazi's visit to Pakistan shortly after its May 1998 nuclear weapons tests was a sign that Pakistan was preparing to sell nuclear technology to Iran.[58]

In 1999, he met with Indian prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee at the Wagah border and signed a joint communique, known as the Lahore Declaration.[68] Since both countries had ordered their nuclear tests, both prime ministers proceeded towards maintaining peace and security.[69] In 1998, both governments signed an agreement recognising the principle of building an environment of peace and security and resolving all bilateral conflicts, which became the basis of the Lahore Declaration.[69] On 1 February 1999, Prime Minister Sharif made a breakthrough with India when he invited his counterpart to Pakistan. On 19 February, Indian premier Atal Bihari Vajpayee paid a historic state visit to Pakistan travelling on the inaugural bus service connecting the Indian capital of New Delhi with the major Pakistan's cultural city of Lahore, establishing a major transport link for the peoples of both nations.[69] On 21 February, both Prime ministers signed the bilateral agreement with a memorandum of understanding to ensure the nuclear-free safety in South Asia.[69] This bilateral agreement was widely popular in Pakistan and India onwards, the people of Pakistan supported the Prime minister's move and the Prime minister received wide appreciation from the opposition as well as the civil society.[69] This agreement known as Lahore Declaration, it was widely assumed to development of nuclear weapons brought added responsibility to both nations towards avoiding conflict and promoted the importance of Confidence-building measures, especially to avoid accidental and unauthorised use of nuclear weapons.[69] To some Western observers, this treaty was more like as of SALT Treaties signed by both superpowers, the Soviet Union and the United States.[70] In July 2012, Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) chief Sharif said there on Wednesday night that there was no US apology on the killing of Pakistani soldiers and he would join the protest against the reopening of Nato supplies.[71] In October 2013 Sharif had an official meeting with US President Barack Obama at White House to discuss Pakistani's atomic issues.[72]

Constitutional amendment

In late August 1998, he proposed a law to establish a legal system based on the Islamic principles.[73] His proposal came a week after the 10-year commemorations of the late president Zia ul-Haq. The Cabinet removed some of its controversial aspects.[74][75] The National Assembly approved and passed the bill on 10 October 1998 by 151 votes to 16.[76] With majority in Parliament, Sharif drove Pakistan's political system more onto parliamentary system, reverting the previous semi-presidential system and laws fondly enjoyed by president.[76] With passing these amendments, Sharif became the strongest prime minister that the country has ever seen since its independence.[76] However, these amendments failed to achieve a two-thirds majority in the Senate, which was still under control of the Pakistan Peoples Party. Weeks afterward, Sharif's government would suffer a military coup, therefore these amendments went to cold storage after Pervez Musharraf replaced them with his 2002 LFO, putting back the country to semi-presidential system. However, in 2010, Pakistan's Parliament unanimously passed the 18th Amendment, which was passed by both in National Assembly and Senate, putting back the country to the road to parliamentary system.

Issues with judiciary

During his second term, Sharif mounted problems with the Supreme Court— an apex judicial authority. Sharif's Fourteenth Amendment had prohibited legislators and lawmakers from dissenting or voting against their own parties.[77] The XIV Amendment also contained the clause that the offending legislators could not seek relief through Judiciary, and the right of appeal was provoked by the XVI Amendment.[77] When legislators of different parties took the case Supreme Court, Sharif was furious and frustrated with the actions of the Supreme Court.[77] Sharif openly criticised Chief Justice Sajad Alishah, inviting a notice of contempt.[77] After the military and the president reached to Sharif to avoid a constitution crises, Sharif agreed the solve the issue amicably, but was determined to oust Chief Justice Sajad Alishah.[77]

Sharif manipulated the ranks of senior judges, deposing two judges close to Chief Justice.[77] The deposed judges challenged Sharif's orders on procedural grounds by filing a petition at Quetta High Court on 26 November 1997.[77] The Chief Justice was restrained by his fellow judges from adjudicating in the case against the Prime minister.[77] On 28 November, Sharif as Prime minister appeared in the Supreme Court where he justified his actions calling it constitutional, and citing evidences that were obtained by Sharif at the Quetta High Court junior judges against the two judges Sharif had deposed.[77] After looking at the evidences, Chief Justice Sajad Ali Shah suspended the decision of Quetta High Court, but soon the Peshawar High Court issued similar order removing Chief Justice's closest judges.[77] The Associate Chief Justice of Peshawar High Court, Justice Saeeduzzaman Siddiqui declared himself as acting Chief Justice.[77]

Attack on Supreme Court

Chief Justice Sajad Ali Shah, however, continued to assert his authority and persisted in hearing Sharif's case.[77] On 30 November 1997, while the hearing was in progress, Sharif's cabinet ministers and a large number of his supporters entered the Supreme Court building, disrupting the proceedings.[77] The chief justice asked the military to send the military police, and subsequently struck down the Thirteenth (XIII) Amendment thereby restoring the power of the president.[77] But, this move backfired on the chief justice when the military backed the prime minister and refused to obey the president's orders to remove Sharif.[77] The prime minister forced President Farooq Leghari to resign, and appointed Wasim Sajjad as acting president.[77] After the president's removal, Sharif ousted Chief Justice Sajad Ali Shah to end the constitutional crisis once and for all.[77]

2006 formal apology

On 29 November 2006, Sharif and the member of his party issued a public apology to former Chief Justice Sajjad Ali Shah and the former president Farooq Leghari for their actions.[78] His party's member paid a farewell visit to the residence of Chief Justice Ali Shah where they presented a written apology to him; later in Parliament, his party issued white paper formally apologising for their wrongdoing in 1997.[79]

Policy on anti-terrorism

During Benazir Bhutto's period, the country suffered the terrorist attack on Egyptian Embassy in Islamabad that led to the rift between relationship Pakistan and Egypt. He took initiatives against terrorism when on 17 August 1997, he passed the controversial Anti-Terrorist Act which established Anti-Terrorism Courts.[50] The Supreme Court later rendered the Act unconstitutional. However, Sharif made few amendments, and received the permission of the Supreme Court to establish these courts.[50] It were the Anti-Terrorism Courts that were used by General Pervez Musharraf to prosecute Sharif in an alleged terrorism/hijacking case in 1999.

Relations with the military

From the 1981 until the military coup against him in 1999, Sharif enjoyed a strong and extremely friendly and cordial relations with the Pakistan Armed Forces – the only civilian leader to have cordial friendship and relationships with the military's establishment at that time.[12] Sharif pressed his tough rhetoric actions and repeatedly violates the constitution as well as the military code of conduct.

He later had severe political confrontation with in 1999 when he tried to replace General Musharraf with generals loyal to him that resulted in a coup d'état which removed him from office.[12] At the end of General Wahied Kakar's three-year term in January 1996, General Jehangir Karamat was appointed Chief of Army Staff of Pakistan Army.[12] His term was due to end on 9 January 1999.[12] However, in October 1998 Sharif had a falling out with General Karamat over the latter's advocacy of a "National Security Council".[12] Sharif interpreted this move to be a conspiracy to return the military to a more active role in Pakistan politics.[12]

In 1999, after Sharif's removal, the National Security Council was indeed established by his successor.[12] In October 1998, General Karamat resigned and Sharif promoted Lieutenant-General Pervez Musharraf, then core-commander of the I Strike Corps that time, as 4-star general and appointed him as new Chief of Army Staff.[12] Sharif then also appointed General Musharraf as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee despite Musharraf's lack of seniority to Admiral Bokhari.[12] In protest, Admiral Fasih Bokhari resigned from his post as Chief of Naval Staff.[12]

Dismissal of General Jehangir Karamat

However, political scientists and critics who studied his policies noted that as Prime minister, Sharif ruthlessly established his control all over the country, including the military.[80] In October 1998, Sharif forced and fired General Karamat over the serious issues on National Security Council disputes.[12] The dismissal of General Karamat was least popular decision in Sharif's prime ministerial ship, and his approval ratings plummeted.[80] Military lawyers and civilian law experts saw this step as clear "violation" of Pakistan Constitution and as clear violation of military justice code.[80] Media Minister Syed Mushahid Hussain and later Prime minister himself justified his actions on national and international media:

In a democratic society, would a Chief of Army Staff and chairman Joint Chiefs talk about the Government like that? What happened to General MacArthur? Mr. Harry Truman did not waste much time. Pakistan is finally becoming a normal democratic society.

Mushahid Hussain, Media Minister in Nawaz Government, [81]

Political scientist Dr. Samina Ahmed of Defence and Strategic Studies Department noted that since his re-elect in 1997 and success of passing the constitutional amendments, Prime minister Sharif began to abuse his powers since then.[81] She later quoted that:

During his time, Sharif was a very powerful prime minister.... since the country's independence. Power is tangible when you can exercise it. In Pakistan, the (Nawaz) Government doesn't seem capable of exercising it.

Samina Ahmed, [81]

The relieve of General Karamat was a heated issue discussed even by his senior government ministers.[82] The most-senior and the former Treasury minister Sartaj Aziz gave vehement criticism and showed opposition to the Prime minister for making this move.[82] Writing a thesis in his book, Between Dreams and Realities: Some Milestones in Pakistan's History, Aziz maintained: "Blunder of firing of General Karamatt; others will blame Nawaz Sharif for many mistakes he made. But in my view, the most serious of these mistakes was Nawaz Sharif's decision to remove General Jehangir Karamat as chief of army staff in October 1998". Aziz was extremely confident and certain that Chief of General Staff Lieutenant-General Ali Kuli Khan would be appointed as the Chief of Army Staff based on his seniority, merit, among a very competent officer, and next in seniority to General Karamat.[82]

It came to the conclusion that in relieving General Jehangir Karamat, Prime minister Sharif had committed a "blunder". He also failed to recognize that despite his heavy mandate, it was not advisable for him to dismiss two army chiefs in less than a year. In doing so he had overplayed his hands and effectively derailed the democratic process for nine long years...

Sartaj Aziz, 2009, [82]

However, after being persuaded by his younger brother and then (also as of current) Chief minister of Punjab Province Shehbaz Sharif and his close friend Nisar Ali Khan, to appoint General Musharraf as the next Chief of Army Staff, despite his lack of seniority. This came to shock in the media and the opposition, Aziz sent his recommendation to appoint either Lieutenant-General Ali Kuli Khan or Admiral Fasih Bokhari as the Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee, to redress the injustice done to both officers.[82]

Prime minister Sharif took the recommendation but appointed General Musharraf as Chairman of Joint Chiefs after accepting the request of Shehbaz Sharif. Appointing General Musharraf as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, plummeted his mandate in the public after headlines in the media were made, opposition also gave intense criticism to Sharif that he was unable to effectively countered or justified his actions to the public. His senior minister, Sartaj Aziz, also expressed displeased after marking that: Sharif "committed a blunder, failing to recognize that despite his heavy mandate, it was not advisable for him to dismiss (two) army chiefs in less than a year. In doing so Sharif had made a serious of these blunders after relieving [General] Karamatt, but yet, (an) unforgettable mistake that he would never be able to cover the damage afterwords...", Sartaj Aziz noted.[82]

After Sharif approved the controversial appointment of General Musharraf to chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee, the pillars of silent hostility and resentment were built between chief of naval staff Admiral Fasih Bokhari during the Kargil war, which Admiral Bokhari gave rogue and grave criticism the Prime minister yet faced.[83] On 6 October 1999, Admiral Bokhari abruptly resigned from the navy when the televised media news reached to him that prime minister Nawaz Sharif appointed the chief of army staff General Pervez Musharraf as chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee.[84] Bokhari reached to Prime minister Secretariat and lodged a loud protest against Musharraf and Nawaz Sharif as Bokhari considered Musharraf as much junior officer to him.[84] Admiral's resignation was made public domain and Sharif accepted the resignation of Admiral Bokhari onwards.[84]

Confrontation with the military

The year of 1999 brought a tremendous political upheavals and dramatic changes in Pakistan as well as for the Prime minister.[12] Confrontation with military began sometime in 1999, starting first with Admiral Fasih Bokhari, when Admiral Bokhari lodged a powerful protest against the Kargil debacle and called for court-martial of Pervez Musharraf in private television channels.[79][85]

During the Kargil War in 1999, Sharif claimed to have no knowledge of the planned attacks, saying that Pervez Musharraf acted alone.[86] In 2008, Lieutenant-General (retired) Jamshed Gulzar Kiani— at that time Kiani was Major-general and served as the Director-General of the Military Intelligence— also publicly confirmed Sharif's statement of not having the knowledge on Kargil debacle.[87] According to Major-General Kiani, General Musharraf had eye-blinded the Prime minister and did not brief him over the true facts or difficult situation which was faced by the Pakistan Army.[87] During the Kargil debacle, the Indian Air Force's two MiG-29 intercepted the Pakistan Air Force's two F-16 fighter jets of the No. 9 Squadron Griffins, initially gaining a missile lock on these jets.[88] This dogfight made a next-day morning headlines in Pakistan, prompting the prime minister to investigate the matter. However, Chief of Air Staff General Pervez Mehdi denied this incident, later accused the Prime minister for not taking the Air Force in confidence in the matters of national security.[89]

Sharif's part-time taking control of stock exchange markets had devastating effects on Pakistan's economy, a move he instigated after the tests to control the economy.[87] Sharif's policies were widely disapproved by the people and at the mid of 1999, and Sharif's own popularity was mixed with few approved his policies.[87]

In August 1999 two Indian Air Force MiG-21FL aircraft shot down a Pakistan Navy Breguet Atlantique reconnaissance aircraft near the Rann of Kutch in India, killing 16 naval officers,[90] the greatest number of combat-related casualties for the navy since the Indo-Pakistani Naval War of 1971[90] Already suffering from public disapproval and bad popularity, this incident came at a particularly bad juncture for the Prime Minister, already under attack from politicians and civil society for ordering a withdrawal of its troops from Kargil.[90] Sharif failed to gather any foreign support against India after this incident, and the navy saw this failure as Sharif's not supporting the navy in wartime.[90] Chief of Naval Staff Admiral Abdul Aziz Mirza turned against the Prime minister, and Sharif soon faced a new cold war with the newly appointed Admiral who had assumed charge of the navy only a few days before.[90] The Prime minister dispatched units of Marines in the vicinity to retrieve the downed aircraft's pilots, but the Marines also turned their back on the Prime minister due to his failure to defend the Navy at the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in September 1999.[90] Relations with the Air Force also deteriorated in a matter of months, when Chief of Air Staff General Parvaiz Mehdi Qureshi accused the Prime minister of not taking the Air Force into his confidence in matters critical to national security.[89][90]

Two months later, after escalating the tug of war with the Armed Forces, Sharif was deposed by General Pervez Musharraf, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee and Chief of Army Staff, and martial law was established throughout the country.[90]

Military coup

The simultaneous of conflicts in North with India and West with Afghanistan as well as the economical turmoil, Sharif's credibility was undermined and destroyed as the public opinion turned against him and his policies. On 12 October 1999, Prime minister Sharif attempted to remove Chairman of the Joint Chiefs and Chief of Army Staff General Pervez Musharraf as Sharif saw the General as responsible for his failure, and appoint General Ziauddin Butt in his place. Musharraf, who was in Sri Lanka, attempted to return through a PIA commercial flight to return to Pakistan after he learned the news. Sharif ordered civilian Inspector-General of Sindh Police Force Rana Maqbool to arrest of Chief of Army Staff and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee General Musharraf.

Sharif ordered the Jinnah Terminal to be sealed off to prevent the landing of the Musharraf's airliner fearing a coup d'état. However, the Captain of the A300 aircraft requested refuelling; therefore, Sharif ordered the plane to land at Nawabshah Airport, today called as Shaheed Benazirabad Airport. Meanwhile, in Nawabshah Airport, Musharraf contacted top Pakistan Army Generals who then took over the country and ousted Sharif's administration. Musharraf later assumed control of the government as chief executive. Initially, the prime minister's mindset was to remove the chairman Joint Chiefs and the Chief of Army Staff first, then deposed the Chief of Naval Staff and the Chief of Air Staff, who had played the role destroying the credibility of prime minister. Hence, it was a move to deposed the senior military leadership of the Pakistan Armed Forces, that brutally backfired on the Prime minister. Only one protest was held by Sardar Mohsin Abbasi in front of Supreme Court on 17 October 1999 on the first hearing of Main Nawaz Sharif. That was the first strong message. Raja Zafar-ul-Haq, Sir Anjam Khan, Zafer Ali Shah & Sardar Mohsin Abbasi were the only supporters left in first six months. Many of Sharif's cabinet ministers and his constituents were divided during the court proceedings, remained neutral and did not back the Prime minister. Dissidents such as Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain and among others remained quiet and later formed Pakistan Muslim League, further breaking his party into small pieces. The military police initiated massive arrests of Pakistan Muslim League's workers and the leaders of the parties. In Punjab and Sindh Provinces, the prisoners were held in Sindh and Punjab Police Prisons. Sharif was taken to Adiala Jail where a court trial headed by Military judge was set to begin.[91]

Trial of the prime minister

The military placed him on military trial for "kidnapping, attempted murder, hijacking and terrorism and corruption".[92][93] The military court quickly convicted him in a speedy trial and gave him a life sentence.[93] Report began to surface that the military court was near to give Sharif a death sentence, previously had done by the military court in the trial of Zulfikar Ali Bhutto.[92] Sharif was placed in Adiala Jail, infamous for hosting Zulfikar Ali Bhutto's trial, and his leading defence lawyer, Iqbal Raad, was gunned down in Karachi in mid-March.[94] Sharif's defence team blamed the military for intentionally providing their lawyers with inadequate protection.[94] The military court proceedings were widely accused of being a show trial.[95][96][97] Sources from Pakistan claimed that Musharraf and his military government's officers were in full mood to exercise tough conditions on Sharif[98] The trial went fast and speedy, and it became authenticated that the court is near to place its verdict on Nawaz Sharif on his charges, and the court will sentence Sharif to death.[98] Sharif was also set face a case of "corruption", and received a 14 years life imprisonment additional. Sharif also forced to pay US$400,000. The case centred on a civilian helicopter, which he said to have owned during the mid-1990s.[99]

Saudi Arabia and King Fahd initially came in shock when the news reached to Saudi Arabia, prompting King Fahd to contact the Pakistan Army over this military coup.[98] Pakistan, under Nawaz Sharif and Saudi Arabia, under King Fahd, enjoyed extremely close business and cultural relations that is sometimes attributed as special relationships.[98] Amid pressure exerted by the US President Bill Clinton and King Fahd, the military court avoided the award of a death sentence to Sharif.[98] During the state visit of General Musharraf, King Fahd showed his concern over the trial as the king was worried that the death sentence would provoke more and intense ethnic violence in Pakistan as it did in the 1980s.[98] Under an agreement facilitated by Saudi Arabia, Sharif was placed in exile for the next 10 years and through the Saudi Arabian Airlines.[98] Sharif agreed not to take part in politics in Pakistan for 21 years. He has also forfeited property worth $8.3 million (£5.7 million) and agreed to pay a fine of $500,000.[100] Sharif travelled to Jeddah where he was received by the Saudi officials and taken to a residence managed and controlled by the Saudi government.[98] At Jaddah, the Saudi Arabian government gave Sharif a loan to establish a steel mill and Sharif bought land where he established the iron-steel mill foundry that is worth millions of dollars.[98] During this episode of military coup, General Musharraf wrote in his memoirs that, thanks to Saudi Arabia and King Fahd, Sharif's life was spared by the military court otherwise Sharif would have met the same fate as of Zulfikar Ali Bhutto in 1979.[101]

1999 tax evasion scandal

The prosecution accused Sharif of evading federal tax on the purchase of a helicopter worth US$1 million. Sharif denied this allegation. The Lahore High Court agreed to acquit him of this charge conditional on whether he was able to present evidence that proved his innocence. Sharif failed to cite any substantial evidence. The Lahore High Court ordered Sharif to pay a fine of US$400,000 on grounds of tax evasion, and he was sentenced to 14 years of imprisonment.[99]

Return to Pakistan

Failed attempt in Islamabad

The Supreme Court of Pakistan ruled on 23 August 2007 that former prime minister Nawaz Sharif and his brother, Shehbaz, were free to return. Both vowed to return soon.[102][103]

On 8 September, Lebanese politician Saad Hariri and Saudi intelligence chief Prince Muqrin bin Abdul-Aziz addressed an unprecedented joint press conference at Army Combatant Generals Headquarters (GHQ) to discuss how Sharif's return would affect relations. Muqrin stated that the initial agreement was for 10 years but "these little things do not affect relations." Muqrin expressed hope that Sharif would continue with the agreement.[104]

Two days later, Sharif returned from exile in London[104] to Islamabad. He was prevented from leaving the plane and he was deported to Jeddah, Saudi Arabia within hours.[105] His political career appeared to be over.[52]

Successful return in Lahore

Musharraf went to Saudi Arabia on 20 November 2007 as he left the country for the first time since implementing emergency rule.[106] He attempted to convince Saudi Arabia to prevent Sharif from returning until after the elections in January 2008.[106] The political role of Sharif returned to the fore after Benazir Bhutto's return a month earlier.[106] Saudi Arabia appeared to argue that if Pakistan has allowed a democratic-socialist woman leader, Benazir Bhutto, to return to the country, then the conservative Sharif should be permitted to return too.[106]

Sharif returned to Pakistan five days later. Thousands of supporters whistled and cheered as they hoisted Sharif and his brother on their shoulders through ranks of wary riot police officers.[107] After an 11-hour procession from the airport, he reached a mosque where he offered prayers as well as criticism against Musharraf.[108] His return to Pakistan came with only one day left to register for elections. This set the stage for an overnight shift of the political scene.[107]

2008 General elections

Sharif called for the boycott of the January 2008 elections because he believed the poll would not be fair, given a state of emergency imposed by Musharraf. Sharif and the PML (N) decided to participate in the parliamentary elections after 33 opposition groups, including Benazir Bhutto's Pakistan People's Party, met in Lahore but failed to reach a joint position.[109] For the elections, he campaigned for the restoration of the independent judges removed by emergency government decree and Musharraf's departure.[110][111]

Bhutto's assassination led to the postponement of the elections to 18 February 2008.[112] During the elections, both parties, but the Pakistan Peoples Party in particular, rely on a mix of feudal relationships and regional sentiment for their voting bases – the Bhuttos in Sindh, Nawaz Sharif in the Punjab.[112] Sharif condemned Bhutto's assassination and called it the "gloomiest day in Pakistan's history".[113]

Between Bhutto's assassination and the elections, the country faced a rise in attacks by militants.[114] Sharif accused Musharraf of ordering anti-terror operations that have left the country "drowned in blood."[114] Pakistan's government urged opposition leaders to refrain from holding rallies ahead of the elections, citing an escalating terrorist threat.[114] Sharif's party quickly rejected the recommendation, accusing officials of trying block the campaign against Musharraf since large rallies have traditionally been the main way to drum up support in election campaigns.[114]

On 25 January, Musharraf initiated a failed four-day visit to London to use British mediation in Pakistani politics to reconcile with the Sharif brothers.[115] Zardari's Pakistan People's Party, boosted by the death of Benazir Bhutto, and Sharif's Pakistan Muslim League-N dominated the elections. PPP received 86 seats for the 342-seat National Assembly; the PML-N, 66; and the PML-Q, which backs president Pervez Musharraf, 40.[116] Zardari and Sharif would later create a coalition government that ousted Musharraf.

In opposition (2008–2013)

His party had joined a coalition led by PPP but the alliance had been strained by differences over the fate of judges Musharraf dismissed last year and over how to handle the unpopular president.[117] Sharif won much public support for his uncompromising stand against Musharraf and for his insistence the judges be reinstated.[117] The coalition successfully forced Musharraf's resignation. He also successfully pressured Zardari for the reinstatement of judges removed by Musharraf in emergency rule. This led to the courts cleansing Sharif of a criminal record rendering him eligible to re-enter parliament.[118]


In the June 2008 by-elections, Sharif's party won 91 National Assembly seats and 180 provincial assembly seats in the Punjab.[119] The Lahore seat election was postponed because of wrangling over whether Sharif was eligible to contest.[117][120]

Musharraf impeachment

The coalition government agreed on 7 August 2008 to impeach Musharraf. Zardari and Sharif sent a formal request for him to step down. A charge-sheet had been drafted, and was to be presented to parliament.[121] It included Mr Musharraf's first seizure of power in 1999—at the expense of Nawaz Sharif, the PML(N)'s leader, whom Mr Musharraf imprisoned and exiled—and his second last November, when he declared an emergency as a means to get re-elected president.[122] The charge-sheet also listed some of Mr Musharraf's contributions to the "war on terror".[122]

The National Assembly was summoned four days later to discuss impeachment proceedings.[123] On 18 August 2008, Musharraf resigned as President of Pakistan due to mounting political pressure from the impeachment proceedings. On 19 August 2008, Musharraf defended his nine-year rule in an hour-long speech.[124]

Nawaz Sharif claimed that former dictator Pervez Musharraf are responsible for the current crisis the nation is facing now. "Musharraf pushed the country's economy 20 years back after imposing martial law in the country and ousting the democratic government," he said.[125]

Lawyers movement

Sharif and Zardari supported the reinstatement of judges suspended by Musharraf in March 2007. Musharraf had dismissed 60 judges under the state of emergency and Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry in a failed bid to remain in power.[122] Sharif had championed the cause of the judges since their dismissal.[35] The new government that succeeded Musharraf which had campaigned on reinstatement had failed to restore the judges . This led to a collapse of the coalition government in late 2008 due to Zardari's erstwhile refusal to reinstate the sacked judge.[35] Zardari feared that Chaudhry would undo all edicts instated by Musharraf including an amnesty that he had received from corruption charges.[35]

On 25 February 2009, Supreme Court disqualified Nawaz Sharif and Shehbaz Sharif, the chief minister of the Punjab, from holding public office. Zardari then dismissed the provincial legislature and declared president's Rule in the Punjab.[35] Lawyers and citizen's groups in Pakistan, civil activists, and a coalition of political parties were planning to take to the streets in a protest march that started on 13 March.[126] Zardari attempted to place Sharif under house arrest two days later,[35] but provincial police disappeared the same day from his house after an angry crowd gathered outside. The Punjab Police decision to free Sharif from confinement was very likely in response to an army command.[35] Sharif, with a large contingent of SUVs, began leading a march to Islamabad but ended the march in Gujranwala.[35] In a televised morning speech on 16 March, Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani promised to reinstate Iftikhar Chaudhry after pressure from Pakistan's army, American and British envoys, and internal protests. PPP also made a secret agreement to restore the PML(N) government in the Punjab. Sharif then called off the "long march".[35] The PPP-led government continued to survive. A Senior PML(N) leader had said "95% of the members of the PML(N) were against becoming part of the lawyers' movement, but after the SC verdict, the PML(N) had no other choice but to opt to support this movement. "[127]

Removal of bar on third term

The 18th Amendment Bill in the Parliament passed on 8 April 2010 removed the bar on former prime ministers to stand for only two terms in office. This allows Sharif to become prime minister for a third time.[128]

2013 Pakistan general election

Khan–Sharif rivalry

It is only through your vote that you can bring change for prosperity, to strengthen the country's borders, end terrorism, improve education, and get land reforms and put Sindh and Pakistan on a path to progress.

— Nawaz Sharif[129]

Between 2011 and 2013, Imran Khan and Nawaz Sharif began to engage each other in a bitter feud. The rivalry between the two leaders grew in late 2011 when Imran Khan addressed his largest crowd at Minar-e-Pakistan in Lahore. The two began to blame each other for many political reasons.[130]

From 26 April 2013, in the run up to the elections, both the PML-N and the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) started to criticise each other like never before. In the run up to the elections, Imran Khan challenged Sharif for a live television debate. Sharif immediately rebuffed the offer.[131] However, during the confrontations, Khan was accused of personally attacking Sharif and as a result, the Election Commission of Pakistan gave notice to Khan because political candidates should refrain from personal attacks on others. Khan denied he was launching personal attacks on Sharif.[132][133] On 18 August 2014, Khan announced his party would renounce all its seats it won in the 2013 elections, claiming the elections were rigged, a claim he had made before. He accused Sharif of plundering the national wealth, and demanded his resignation. He called on the public to withhold taxes and payment of utility bills to force the government to resign.[134] On 22 August 2014 Khan and his fellow 33 PTI lawmakers resigned from the national assembly. He called for a caretaker government to be formed composing non-political people, and for fresh elections.[135]


As the elections drew near, Nawaz Sharif held dozens of rallies across Pakistan. Sharif promised, if elected to power, that he will end loadshedding, construct more motorways and also begin construction of high-speed rail which will carry Shinkansen-style bullet trains which will stretch from Peshawar to Karachi.[136] He also promised to construct a third port in Keti Bandar on the southern coast of Thatta District.[137] Just prior to his election victory, Sharif confirmed he had a long phone conversation with Indian prime minister Manmohan Singh, in a hint at a desire to improve relations between the two countries.[138]

2013 election results

On 11 May 2013, the Pakistan Muslim League (N) won 126 seats in the National Assembly. After most of the results were counted, the ECP announced that the PML-N had 124 seats in Parliament. Because the Pakistan Muslim League (N) were 13 seats short of a 137-majority, Sharif had to form a coalition. Therefore, he began to hold talks with Independent candidates who were elected to Parliament. Sharif said he wanted to avoid having to form a coalition so as to have the strong government Pakistan needs at the present time, but because he was 13 seats short, he had to form a coalition.[139]

It was reported eight days later that Nawaz Sharif had secured a majority in Pakistan's national assembly after 18 independent candidates joined the party, allowing it to form government in the National Assembly without striking an alliance with any other party. The minimum needed was 13 independent candidates, but Sharif had managed to make an alliance with 5 more candidates, giving the PML-N a coalition government of 142 seats.[4] After the coalition was announced, Nawaz Sharif stated that he wanted to take his oath as Prime Minister on 28 May, the 15th anniversary of when he ordered Pakistan's first nuclear tests in 1998.[140]

PTI's chairman Imran Khan announced on 27 June that they would go for a long march—naming it "Azadi March"—from 14 August against the government alleging that the 2013 elections were rigged. Khan claimed that he will gather more than million people in the march.[141] On 6 August 2014, Khan demanded the government to dissolve the assemblies, election commission and resigntion of the Prime minister, and claim that this would be the "biggest political protest in the history of the country."[142] PTI started their march from Lahore on 14 August and they reached to Islamabad on 16 August.[143] The PTI's lawmakers announced their resignation from the National Assembly, and the Punjab and Sindh assemblies.[144] However government leaders were trying to negotiate a settlement with Khan and his party's backers to break what had become a political deadlock.[145]

Third term as Prime Minister (2013–2017)

Sharif was sworn in for an unprecedented third term on 7 June 2013 after the resounding election victory of the PML-N. After being sworn in, he faced numerous challenges, including bringing an end to US drone strikes and Taliban attacks while also tackling a crippled economy. Speculation was rife that the new government may need a bailout from the International Monetary Fund to restore economic stability.[146]

Domestic policy

Social policy

Unlike Sharif's previous two governments which were underpinned by social conservatism, Sharif's third term is credited to be one of social centrism.[147][148][149] He called the future of Pakistan as one underpinned as an "educated, progressive, forward looking and an enterprising nation".[150] In January 2016, he also moved to back Punjab Government's policy of banning Tablighi Jamaat from preaching in educational institutions and in February 2016 he enacted a law that provides for a helpline for women to report abuses by their husbands and others despite the criticism of conservative religious parties.[151]

His government hanged Mumtaz Qadri on 29 February 2016. Qadri had shot Salman Taseer to death in 2011 over his opposition to blasphemy laws.[152] According to BBC News, the move to hang Qadri is an indication of government's growing confidence in taming the street power of religious groups.[153] To the disliking of religious conservatives, he promised that the perpetrators of honour killing's will be 'punished very severely'.[154] On 9 March 2016, The Washington Post claimed that Sharif is defying Pakistan's powerful clergy by unblocking access to YouTube, pushing to end child marriage, enacting a landmark domestic violence bill, and overseeing the execution of a man who killed Salman Taseer for criticising the blasphemy law.[155][156] Sunni Tehreek led protests of nearly 2,000 Islamic fundamentist protesters on 28 March 2016. They staged a three-day long sit-in at the D-Chowk in Islamabad against the execution of Mumtaz Qadri. They demanded that the Sharif government accepts their demands, which included the implementation of Shariah in the country and declaring Mumtaz Qadri a martyr.[157] In response, Sharif addreased the nation claiming that "let it be clear that those spreading outrage, fanning the fire of hatred, inciting sectarianism and creating problems for citizens will without a doubt be dealt with by means of law."[158]

Nation's future lies in democratic, liberal Pakistan where the private sector thrives and no one is left behind

— Nawaz Sharif[159]

Sharif's government declared on 16 March 2016 that the Hindu festivals Diwali and Holi, and the Christian festival of Easter, were officially public holidays. Time Magazine called the step as a "significant step for the country's beleaguered religious minorities."[160] On 6 December 2016, Pakistan's Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif approved the renaming of Quaid-i-Azam University's (QAU) physics centre to the Professor Abdus Salam Center for Physics. Sharif also announced that Professor Abdus Salam Fellowship will be established which will include five annual fully funded Pakistani PhD students in the field of Physics.[161] In response, the Council of Islamic Ideology crtised Sharif's move claiming that "changing the department's name would not set the right precedent."[162]

Sharif stressed the need for operation 'Zarb-e-Qalam' to fight the extremism and intolerance in the society through the power of "writers, poets and intellectuals."[163] Addressing to the Pakistan Academy of Literature, Sharif said that "in a society where flowers of poetry and literature bloom, the diseases of extremism, intolerance, disunity and sectarianism are not born," Sharif also announced a Rs. 500m endowment fund for the promotion of art and literary activities in Pakistan.[164] On 9 January 2017, the government denied visas for international preachers for the Tablighi Jamaat conference in Lahore. Jamia Binoria criticised the Sharif government's decisions.[165]

Sharif, in a March 2017 address at Jamia Naeemia, urged Islamic scholars to spread the true teachings of Islam and take a firm stand against those who are causing disunity among Muslims. Sharif called for a "progressive and prosperous Muslim world," asking that "religious scholars to come forward take the war against these terrorists to its logical end."[166]

Economic policy

Fiscal YearGDP growthInflation rate
2013–14[167] 4.14%[168] 8.5%[169]
2014–15 4.24% 4.8%[170]
2015–16 4.5%[171] 5.1%[170]
2016–17 5.2%[172]


Sharif inherited an economy crippled with many challenges including energy shortages, hyperinflation, mild economic growth, high debt and large budget deficit. Shortly after taking power in 2013, Sharif won a $6.6 billion loan from the International Monetary Fund to avoid a balance-of-payments crisis. Lower oil prices, higher remittances and increased consumer spending are pushing growth toward a seven-year high of 4.3 percent in the fiscal year of FY2014-15.[173]

Asian Development Bank tributes gradual growth in economy to the continued low prices for oil and other commodities, the expected pick-up in growth in the advanced economies, and some alleviation of power shortages.[174] However, the sovereign debt of Pakistan has increased dramatically, with total debts and liabilities swelled to Rs. 22.5 trillion (or $73 billion) by August 2016.[175] Sharif administration also issued a five-year $500-million Eurobond in 2015 at the interest rate of 8.25% and in September 2016, it also raised $1 billion by floating Sukuk (Islamic bonds) at an interest rate of 5.5%.[176]

The Sharif administration has either signed, or is negotiating FTA's to expand trade liberalisation.

FY 2013–14

According to the Pakistan Institute of Legislative Development and Transparency, quality of governance has 'marginally improved' during the Sharif's first year in power within an overall score of 44% in its Assessment of the Quality of Governance in Pakistan. It scored highest in disaster-preparedness, merit-based recruitment, and foreign policy management, while it received the lowest scores on poverty alleviation and transparency.[178]

Pakistan's GDP growth rate for FY 2012–2013 was 3.3%, that was despite business confidence in Pakistan reaching a three-year high in May 2014 largely backed by increasing foreign reserves which crossed $15 billion by mid-2014. Along with that, in May 2014 IMF[179] claimed that Inflation has dropped to 13 per cent compared to 25% in 2008, foreign reserves are in a better position and the current account deficit has come down to 3 per cent of GDP for 2014. Standard & Poor's and Moody's Corporation changed Pakistan's ranking to stable outlook on the long-term rating.[180][181][182]

However, in FY 2013–2014 Pakistan received foreign direct investment of $750.9 million,[183] which is 12.9% less than the amount that the country received in the corresponding preceding fiscal year.[184] On 9 February 2014, the International Monetary Fund said that Pakistan has met nearly all of its quantitative performance markers, that its economy is showing signs of improvement and that its reform program remains broadly on track.[185]

It is striking that reforms have continued despite disruptive domestic political challenges over the last year, and heightened security threats from Islamist terrorism.

Moody's Investors Service on March 16, 2015, [187]

World Bank claimed on 9 April 2014 that Pakistan's economy is at a turning point, growth recovery is underway, with projected GDP growth approaching four percent, driven by dynamic manufacturing and service sectors, better energy availability, and early revival of investor confidence. Inflation is steady at 7.9%. The fiscal deficit is contained at around six percent of GDP due to improved tax collection and restricted current and development expenditure. The current account deficit remains modest, at around one percent of GDP, supported by strong remittances and export dynamism, and the external position is slowly improving since monetary and exchange rate policies switched gear towards rebuilding reserves last November.[188]

On 4 July 2013, the IMF and Pakistan reached a provisional agreement on a $5.3 billion bailout package that aimed to bolster Pakistan's flagging economy and its perilously low foreign exchange reserves, that was contrary to election promise not to take any more loans.[189] On 4 September 2013, The IMF approved another $6.7 billion loan package to help revive the ailing economy. The loan would be given over a three-year period. On IMF's demanded Pakistan plans to carry out various economic reforms, including privatising 31 state owned companies.[190]

FY 2014–15

Pakistan's economic expansion for financial year (FY) 2015, which ended on 30 June 2015, was led by services as growth in manufacturing slowed. Industrial growth was hobbled by a slowdown in large-scale manufacturing to 3.3% owing to continued power shortages and weaker external demand. The resilience of small-scale manufacturing and construction sustained industrial growth at 3.6%. Agriculture growth remained modest at 2.9%. Private fixed investment slipped to equal 9.7% of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) from 10.0% a year earlier because of continuing energy constraints and the generally weak business environment that has depressed investment for several years.[174]

Moody's Corporation upgraded Pakistan's dollar bonds rating one notch from stable to positive on 25 March 2015.[191] Asian Development Bank projected 4.2% economic growth for the current financial year 2014–15 against the target of 5.1%. For the second year in a row Sharif administration missed the key goal in the face of failure to introduce reforms in the areas of energy, taxation and public sector enterprises.[192]

On 3 May, The Economist published a report outlining Pakistan's economic performance. It highlighted that Pakistan's economic performance said that the economy will grow by 4.7% next year, the fastest rate in eight years. Consumer prices rose by 2.5% in between January to March 2015, the smallest increase for more than a decade. Twice already this year the central bank has lowered its benchmark interest rate. It said that the government of Nawaz Sharif takes some credit for the economy's new stability. It has stuck to an IMF programme agreed to in 2013, a few months after it came to power in Pakistan's first-ever handover from one civilian government to another. Foreign-exchange reserves have more than doubled, to $17.7 billion.

A privatisation drive that stalled last June resumed in April, when the government sold its stake in HBL Pakistan for $1 billion. Three-quarters of bids came from foreign investors. Pakistan's stock market has doubled in dollar terms since the start of 2012, thanks in large part to such foreign interest. The Economist said that the progress in providing economic stability is encouraging. But Pakistan needs sustained growth of 5–7% a year if it is markedly to cut poverty-at the last count, nearly a quarter of Pakistanis were below the poverty line.[193]

On 5 May, Standard & Poor's revised projections for Pakistan's average real Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth for 2015 to 2017 to 4.6 per cent from 3.8 per cent and also upped its outlook on Pakistan's long-term 'B-' credit rating to 'positive' from 'stable'. S&P attributes the largely positive projections to diversification in income generation, the government's efforts towards fiscal consolidation, improvement in external financing conditions and performance, and stronger capital inflows and remittances.[194] ESCAP report published in May 2015 claimed that economic growth in Pakistan picked up to 4.1% in 2014 from an average of 3.7% in the previous three years and growth was expected to rise to 5.1% in 2015.[195]

FY 2015–16

Pakistan's GDP is projected by the World Bank to grow by 4.5%. In its South Asian Growth report, the World Bank said, "In Pakistan, gradual recovery to around 4.5 per cent growth by 2016 is aided by low inflation and fiscal consolidation. Increases in remittances and stable agricultural performance contribute to this outcome. But further acceleration requires tackling pervasive power cuts, a cumbersome business environment, and low access to finance. "[196] In FY2016, the current account deficit has widen marginally due to increase in trade deficit.[197] Nevertheless, exports are expected to increase only slightly after 2 years of stagnation,[174] as manufacturing continues to suffer under energy shortages and low cotton prices saw only a modest increase.[198]

During a trip to Pakistan on 10 February 2016, World Bank Group's president Jim Yong Kim applauded the economic policies of the government, he claimed that Pakistan's economic outlook had become more stable.[199] On 10 March 2016, All Pakistan Textile Mills Association claimed that 24-hour gas supply to Punjab's textile mills is expected to increase output of the regions textile industry.[200] On 19 March 2016, Sharif approved a new automobile policy, which offers tax incentives to new entrants to help them establish manufacturing units and compete effectively with the three well-entrenched assemblers. A major incentive for the new investors is the reduced 10% customs duty on non-localised parts for five years against the prevailing 32.5%. For existing investors, the duty will be slashed by 2.5% to 30% from the new fiscal year 2016–17.[201] On 8 April 2016, the government on lobbying of international development groups introduced a new methodology for measuring poverty which increased the poverty ratio from 9.3% to 29.5%. The new poverty line is equal to Rs. 3,030 per adult per month, up from Rs. 2,350.[202] A Pakistan Institute of Legislative Development and Transparency survey claimed that the quality of governance has improved, the weakest performance has been under transparency.[203] Fred Hochberg, head of the Export–Import Bank of the United States visited Pakistan on 14 April and claimed that he "sees a lot of opportunities to expand its exposure to Pakistan."[204] On 9 May, World Bank's Pakistan Development Report claimed that current account is in a healthy position where in the preceding few months it has shown a surplus compared to deficit. However at the same time, the report claimed that Pakistan's export competitiveness has diminished due to protectionist policies, poor infrastructure, and high transaction costs for trade. Consequently, Pakistan exports-to-GDP ratio is declining for the last two decades. It has reduced from 13.5% in 1995 to 10.5% in 2015.[205]

FY 2016–17

MSCI upgraded Pakistan from a Frontier Markets status to that of Emerging Markets status on 15 June 2016.[207][208] According to the BlackRock the up-gradation, is "In our view this is a validation of the substantial positive macro-economic changes that Pakistan has witnessed over recent years."[209] The Business Times estimated that it will generate foreign capital inflows of about $475 million by the middle of 2017.[210][211] The BMI Research report on 11 July named Pakistan as one of the ten emerging markets of the future. The report projected that Pakistan will develop as manufacturing hub over the coming years, with the textile and automotive sectors posting the fastest growth.[212][213] Pakistan officially become a signatory of the OECD's Convention on Mutual Administrative Assistance in Tax Matters, aimed at curbing tax evasion, on 15 September.[214] In his 2016 book, The Rise and Fall of Nations, Ruchir Sharma termed Pakistan's economy as on a 'take-off' stage and the future outlook till 2020 has been termed 'Very Good'. Sharma termed it possible to transform Pakistan from a "low-income to a middle-income country during the next five years."[215]

On 24 October 2016, months after the Sharif government concluded a $6.4 billion three-year programme, the International Monetary Fund managing director Christine Lagarde visited Pakistan, during which she maintained Pakistan is now "certainly out of economic crisis", she added that however continued efforts are needed to bring more people into the tax net and ensure that all pay their fair share.[216] The 2017 Ease of doing business index recognised Pakistan as one of the top ten economies globally making the biggest improvements in their business regulations. Pakistan jumped four ranks from its position last year from 148th to 144th out of 190 countries.[217]

Standard & Poor's, by citing improved policymaking resulting in improved macroeconomic stability, raised Pakistan's rating to B from B- on 31 October. It also revised upward its forecast of average annual GDP growth to five per cent over 2016–2019 from its earlier estimate of 4.7 per cent.[218] In response to S&P's upgrade, PSX's benchmark-100 index posted its largest gain in history, increasing 1,406.03 points (or 3.52%) over a single day.[219]

Hundreds of Chinese trucks loaded with goods rolled into the Sost dry port in Gilgit-Baltistan on 1 November as the first shipment of China–Pakistan Economic Corridor.[220] Two days later, the Sharif government announced that Renault is expected to start assembling cars in Pakistan by 2018, a source earlier had told Reuters that Pakistan was under consideration for new production investment.[221][222] Bloomberg News claimed on 7 November that the economy is expected to grow around five percent annually for the next three years and claimed that "Pakistan is on the verge of an investment-led growth cycle."[223]

Audi, in a November letter to the Board of Investment, expressed interest in setting up an assembly plant in Karachi with an investment of $30 million.[224] On 10 January 2017, The Economist forecasted Pakistan's GDP to grow at 5.3% in 2017, making it the fifth fastest growing economy in the world and the fastest growing in the Muslim world.[225][226] On 17 January 2017, Sharif travelled to attend the World Economic Forum where he held meetings with António Guterres, Stefan Löfven, Ranil Wickremesinghe and Doris Leuthard.[227] He also attended a seminar hosted by The Abraaj Group, Investing in Pakistan: The New Reality, with sixty management executives of MNCs aimed at attracting the foreign direct investment. Among the attendees included Jay Collins of Citigroup, Paul Polman and Michael Rennie of McKinsey.[228][229] Tyler Cowen, writing for Bloomberg termed Pakistan as the most "underrated economy in the world."[230] A CPEC document published on 16 May 2017 by Dawn stated that CPEC "includes penetration of most sectors of Pakistan's economy as well as its society by Chinese enterprises and culture."[231]


Wall Street Journal reviewed Pakistan's privatisation plans on 25 September 2013 in an article published, WSJ reported that Islamabad plans to sell 35 inefficient state-owned enterprises. Officials have announced plans to sell 35 public corporations over three years, including power companies, Pakistan State Oil, Pakistan International Airlines and Pakistan Steel Mills. These enterprises currently lose taxpayers some 500 billion rupees ($4.7 billion) a year, while delivering poor service. Inefficiencies in energy cause frequent blackouts, and the supply problem is exacerbated by government subsidies that have cost a further 1.5 trillion rupees over five years.[232] The privatisation process will be led by a 15-member privatisation commission headed by Mohammad Zubair, formerly IBM's chief financial officer for the Middle East and Africa. On 9 January 2014, Board of Privatisation Commission approved the divestment of shares of three banks along with two other companies.[233]

The government announced to restructure Pakistan International Airlines, which flies routes around the world, including to North America. PIA has already put out a tender to lease new aircraft, to improve its capacity and save fuel with more-efficient planes. As part of the restructuring, PIA has been split into two companies. A holding group would retain some 250 billion rupees in debt and excess personnel, and a "new" PIA would hold the lucrative landing rights and new aircraft. Afterward, the government plans to sell a 26% stake in that new PIA to a strategic partner. In February 2016, Pakistan International Airlines Corporation (PIAC) is to be converted into a public limited company as Pakistan International Airlines Company Limited (PIACL) to make way for privatisation, however this trigged eight-day long union strike.[234] On 23 December 2016, a Chinese consortium won the bid for a 40% stake in the PSX with an amount for $85.5 million.[235]

Communications and development

Upon assuming office, Sharif launched Public Sector Development Programme (PSDP) which for FY 2014–15 consists of construction of Diamer-Bhasha Dam, Dasu Dam, Faisalabad-Khanewal M-4 Motorway, Rawalpindi-Islamabad Metrobus Service and Lahore-Karachi Motorway.[236] While Sharif has also approved feasibility studies for the construction of rail links from Islamabad to Muzaffarabad via Murree, Havelian to the Pakistan-China border and Gwadar to Karachi, along with other initiatives such as approach roads to the New Islamabad International Airport, the new Gwadar International Airport project, Jetty and Infrastructure development at Gadani, Gwadar Port Economic Free Zone project, Pak-China Technical and Vocational Institute at Gwadar and the Quaid-e-Azam Solar Park at Lal Sohnra Park Phase-II (600 MW).[237]

On 24 April 2014, Sharif's administration successfully completed the auction for next-generation telecom spectrum's raising $1.112 billion from the process. Sharif personally handed over the 3G and 4G mobile spectrum licenses to the successful mobile companies – Mobilink, Telenor, Ufone and Zong – Sharif claimed that Rs 260 billion will be collected in the treasury every year because of the new technology, moreover the technology will create millions of jobs in the service sector.[238] To counter competition, Sharif upon assuming office addressed the nation and launched the Prime Minister's Youth Programme, a PKR 20 billion to provide interest free loans, skills development and provision of laptops.

During the 2014–15 fiscal year, Sharif's government announced an increase in Public Sector Development Programme from Rs 425 billion in to Rs 525 billion. The PSDP is the main instrument in government's direct control to channelise funds and make developmental interventions. The government provides budgetary allocations to those projects and programmes that yield maximum benefits for the society in the shortest possible time.[239][240] While the government allocated a whooping Rs 73 billion for China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, including for its cornerstone development, the Lahore-Karachi Motorway.[241]

Pakistan Vision 2025

In August 2014, the Sharif administration unveiled an ambitious programme to transform the country into an economically strong and prosperous nation and to enhance exports to $150 billion by 2025.[242] According to the Daily Times, the Vision 2025 is based on seven pillars those are: putting people first; developing human and social capital; achieving sustained, indigenous and inclusive growth; governance, institutional reform and modernisation of the public sector; energy, water and food security; private sector-led growth and entrepreneurship, developing a competitive knowledge economy through value addition and modernisation of transportation infrastructure and greater regional connectivity.[243]

Considering the existing political challenges faced by Sharif and shaky democratic process in the country, ownership of the rather flawed Vision 2025 is another major concern. The question is will future political setups continue to work on this plan to make it a reality, in case of any change of guard at the center? Each successive government in Pakistan has historically made a U-turn from its predecessor's policies. If this trend prevails, then the Vision 2025 will fail to translate into action.

Arab News on 18 August 2014, [244]
Nuclear power policy

Prime Minister Sharif has always been a staunch advocate of constructing nuclear reactors. In November 2013, Sharif ceremonially broke ground on a $9.59 billion nuclear power complex to be built in Karachi. Upon completion, the reactors will produce 2200MW of electricity.[246] During the groundbreaking ceremony, Sharif stated that Pakistan will construct six nuclear power plants during his term in office.[247] He went on to say that Pakistan has plans on constructing a total of 32 nuclear power plants by 2050, which will generate more than 40,000MW of energy.[248] In February 2014, Sharif confirmed to the IAEA that all future civilian nuclear power plants and research reactors will voluntarily be put under IAEA safeguards.[249]

FATA reform

On 3 March 2017, Sharif's cabinet approved a set of steps to be taken for proposed merger of the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (Fata) with Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and a 10-year Rs. 110 billion development reform package from FATA. Under the reform project, the jurisdiction of the Supreme Court and the Peshawar High Court will be extended to Fata.[250]

National security and defence policy

According to analysts, public expectations of Nawaz Sharif were sky high that he would quickly get to grips with Pakistan's most pressing problems, such as rampant terrorism, multiple insurgencies, an economy in free fall, the lack of electricity and a debilitating foreign policy. On 9 September 2013, Sharif proposed that dialogue with the Pakistani military would create a civil-military partnership, putting the military and an elected government on the same page for the first time in Pakistan's history. This had so far yielded few results.[251] On immediate basis, Sharif reestablished the National Security Council with Sartaj Aziz being its National Security Advisor (NSA).[252] Furthermore, Sharif also reconstituted the Cabinet Committee on National Security (C2NS), with military gaining representation in the country's politics.[253] According to the political scientist and civic-military relations expert, Aqil Shah, Sharif finally did what exactly former chairman joint chiefs General Karamat had called for in 1998.[253]

Prime Minister Sharif announced that it would open unconditional talks with the Taliban, declaring them stakeholders rather than terrorists. The PML-N's conservative hardliners also chose to blame the US and NATO for causing terrorism in Pakistan. The peace effort was encountering problems before it had ever really begun. The Pakistani Taliban's Supreme Council released demands for a cease-fire, to also include the release of all its imprisoned militants and the withdrawal of the Pakistani military from all tribal regions. Former and current government officials criticised Sharif for not yet laying out a clear vision of how the country should handle its more than 40 militant groups, many of them made up of violent Islamic extremists.[254]

On 15 September 2013, just six days after Sharif's proposal for talks with the Taliban, a roadside bomb killed a high-ranking Pakistan's army general and another officer near the border with Afghanistan. Major-General Sanaullah Khan, along with a lieutenant colonel and another soldier, were killed in the Upper Dir district after visiting an outpost near the border. Taliban spokesman Shahidullah Shahid claimed responsibility for the bombing. On the same day, seven more soldiers were killed in four other separate attacks.[255] In a press release, Chairman joint chiefs General Shameem Wynne and chief of army staff General Pervez Kayani, who had earlier warned Sharif not to adopt a surrender strategy, now publicly warned the government that the military would not allow the Taliban to set conditions for peace. General Kayani stated: "No-one should have any misgivings that we would let terrorists coerce us into accepting their terms."[256] According to media reports, Nawaz Sharif is in favour of holding unconditional talks with the Taliban whereas General Kayani favours direct military action. General Kayani stated that Pakistan will not be coerced into talks and that as long as militant groups carry out attacks on soldiers, the military will respond with brute force.[257]

Pakistan desires peace and tranquility both within and outside its borders so that the much needed socio-economic development goals are achieved. We cannot afford to be distracted in fulfilling our national objectives. At the same Pakistan will never compromise on its sovereignty and independence.

Nawaz Sharif while addressing the Pakistan Naval War College, [258]

Seven members of the Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan conducted a terrorist attack on the public school in the city of Peshawar on 16 December, killing over 130 children in Pakistan's deadliest terrorist attack. Following the attack Sharif – with consultation from all political parties- divsised a 20-point National Plan of Action which included continued execution of convicted terrorists, establishment of special military courts for two years and regulation of madrasas.[259]

Rangers held a raid on Nine Zero, the headquarters of Muttahida Qaumi Movement, on 11 March 2015 as part of Karachi operation. According to The Express Tribune on 21 March 2015 sources in the federal government said the Sharif along with the military establishment had decided to accelerate the operation against Muttahida Qaumi Movement and other militant wings in political parties.

Karachi will be made a crime-free city and the operation will continue to achieve the objective, We are going ahead without being deterred by the incidents happening there. The crime rate of extortion and kidnapping is falling down in the city.

Nawaz Sharif, [260]

Based on the National Action Plan, government arrested 32,347 people on different charges in 28,826 operations conducted across the country from 24 December 2014 to 25 March 2015. During the same period, Pakistan deported 18,855 Afghan refugees while the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) registered 64 cases for money transfer through Hawala, arrested 83 people and recovered Rs. 101.7 million. In total, 351 actionable calls were received on the anti-terror helpline and National Database and Registration Authority verified total 59.47 million SIMs.[261] On 28 March 2016, a suicide attack by the Jamaat-ul-Ahrar at a park in Lahore killed 70 people on the evening of Easter Sunday.[262] Analysts believed that Sharif's desire to maintain stability in Punjab led him to turn a blind eye towards groups operating in Punjab. Following the attack Pakistan rounded up more than 5,000 suspects and arresting 216 people.[263]

Karachi operation

The Sharif government launched a Pakistan Rangers led operation on 5 September 2013 in Karachi aimed at rooting out crime and terrorism from the megalopolis. The first phase ended on 10 August 2015 and the second phase started on 14 August 2015. During the first phase, ranger's claimed to have conducted 5,795 raids during which they had apprehended 10,353 suspects and recovered 7,312 weapons and 34,8978 rounds of ammunition. Prominent among the raids conducted were the ones on MQM headquarters Nine Zero and the offices of Sindh Building Control Authority (SBCA). The first phase also saw a total of 826 terrorists, 334 target killers, 296 extortionists arrested during this period. The Rangers also expanded their sphere against kidnappers, arrested 82 abductors and securing the release of 49 people from their captivity. The report further claimed that target killing in the city had dropped drastically by over 80%.[264][265][266] On 23 August 2016, officials claimed that they had arrested 654 target killers affiliated with the Muttahida Qaumi Movement's (MQM) armed wing since 4 September 2013.[267]

Operation Zarb-e-Azb

The negotiations between the Taliban and the Sharif administration collapsed after the execution of 23 Frontier Corps by the Taliban on 17 February 2014, the relations between the administration and the Taliban escalated further after the 2014 Jinnah International Airport attack.[268] The operation was formally launched on 15 June 2014 after the Sharif administration prepared for a three-front operation:[269] isolating targeted militant groups, obtaining support from the political parties and saving civilians from the backlash of the operation.[269] The 2014 Wagah border suicide attack has been the deadliest retaliation against the Operation so far.[270]

Foreign policy

Neighboring countries

Sharif upon taking oath as the Prime Minister launched 'peaceful neighbourhood' initiative to improve ties with neighbouring countries of India, Afghanistan, Iran and China.[271] On 12 May 2014, Sharif met Iranian President Hassan Rouhani amid tensions between the two neighbours following the kidnapping in February 2014 of five Iranian soldiers by extremists who took them across the border into Pakistan.[272]

The cultural affinity among our peoples is a huge asset. Shared geography and history have culminated in a unique synthesis of cultures and traditions. We must therefore, place our people at the centre of the SAARC processes. SAARC must capture the imagination of our peoples and contribute to creating strong and mutually beneficial bonds.

Nawaz Sharif while addressing the 18th SAARC summit, [273]

On 27 October 2016, Sharif hosted the 15th ministerial meeting of CAREC proposed Open Skies Agreement between the countries.[274]


Chinese Premier Li Keqiang was the first world leader to visit Pakistan and congratulate Sharif on his victory in 2013 elections,[275] upon return to Beijing Chinese Premier announced investment of $31.5 billion in Pakistan mainly in countries energy, infrastructure and port expansion for Gwadar. According to The Express Tribune initially projects worth $15–20 billion will be started which include Lahore-Karachi motorway, Gwadar Port expansion and energy sector projects will be launched in Gadani and six coal projects near Thar coalfield. The newspaper further claimed that the government has also handed over to Pakistan Army the task of providing fool-proof security to Chinese officials in Balochistan, Pakistan in a bid to address Beijing's concerns and execute the investment plan in the province, which will get 38% of the funds.[276]

On 8 November 2014, Sharif led delegation to Beijing inked 20 agreements amounting to Chinese investment reportedly worth about $46 billion.[277] Sharif also announced Pakistan's help for China with its fight against East Turkestan Islamic Movement.[278] On 24 June 2015 and again on 1 April 2016 China blocked India's move in the United Nations to ban Jaish-e-Mohammed chief Masood Azhar, the Chinese action was in "consultation" with Pakistan.[279][280] On 25 June 2016, Pakistan become full member of Shanghai Cooperation Organisation.[281] On 4 September 2016, Pakistan's cabinet has given the go-ahead for negotiating a long-term defence agreement with China.[282]


Sharif inherited the country with Geo-political challenges, with the U.S withdrawal and election of new leadership in Afghanistan and the election of Narendra Modi, the Prime Minister of India . Upon controlling office Sharif promised good relations with all its neighbours, he launched trade talks with India with promise of liberalising trade relationship. Sharif met Manmohan Singh on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly in September 2013 however no major agreement was reached.[283] Sharif took significant steps are to improve relations, in particular the consensus on the agreement of Non-Discriminatory Market Access on Reciprocal Basis (NDMARB) status for each other, which will liberalise trade however on 26 March 2014 The Times of India reported that Pakistan military has pressurised Sharif to stop any trade liberalisation with India.[284]

Sharif telephoned Narendra Modi on 16 May 2014 and congratulated him on BJP's "impressive" victory in the general elections in India. During his conversation, Sharif invited Modi to visit Pakistan, becoming among the first leaders to do so.[285] Sharif also attended the inauguration of Modi on 26 May 2014. It was the first time since the two countries won independence in 1947 that a prime minister from one state attended such a ceremony in the other. After the meeting, the two counterparts agreed to enhance co-operation in the field of trade.[286][287] On Friday 5 September, Sharif sent a total of 15 cases of mangoes to Modi and other Indian leadership as an attempt to 'sweeten the relationship',[288]

By 8 October, 20 civilians were killed and thousands forced to flee their homes after Pakistani and Indian security forces started heavy shelling, both sides blamed the other for the shooting.[289] On 20 November 2014, Sharif blamed India for having an inflexible approach towards the resolution of Kashmir dispute.[290] According to Barkha Dutt during the SAARC Summit 2015, Sharif and Modi held a secret hour long meeting, which was hidden from the media.[291] On 10 December 2015, in a major breakthrough, Pakistan and India announced that they were resuming the dialogue on outstanding issues, ending a two-year long stalemate, the decision came during Sushma Swaraj's visit to Islamabad to attend the Heart of Asia ministerial conference.[292] On 1 April 2015, Narendra Modi made a surprise stopover in Lahore to meet Sharif on his birthday, his first visit to Pakistan.[293] Modi and Nawaz held a brief meeting at the latter's Raiwind Palace. This was the first time an Indian premier visited Pakistan in more than a decade. Modi also attended wedding ceremony of Sharif's grand daughter.[294][295]

Balochistan's Home Minister Sarfraz Bugti announced on 25 March 2016 that they have arrested an Indian naval intelligence officer working for Research and Analysis Wing.[296] The person named Kulbushan Yadav was allegedly involved in financially supporting terrorists and also confessed to his involvement in Karachi unrest.[297] The same day through a statement the India's Ministry of External Affairs claimed that the individual has no link with government since his premature retirement from Indian Navy.[298] India also demanded consular access for him.[299][300] On 29 March 2016, Sharif government released a six-minute video of Yadav apparently confessing to RAW's involvement in the country.[301][302] On 1 April 2016, Pakistan confirmed that security agencies have arrested several suspects who are believed to be working for the India's R&AW.[303]

2016 Indian Kashmir unrest

Relation's between India and Pakistan escalated with the killing of Burhan Wani by Indian security forces on 8 July 2016.[304] After his killing, anti-Indian protests started in all 10 districts of the Kashmir Valley. Protesters defied curfew with attacks on security forces and public properties.[20] [21] The unrest led to a standstill in bilateral relations. Indian Home Minister Rajnath Singh accused Pakistan of backing unrest in Kashmir.[305] The tension's reached a boiling point on when militants attacked an army base in the Indian-controlled side of Kashmir and killed 18 soldiers, setting off a war of words between Pakistan and India.[306] Indian army military operations head Lieutenant-General Ranbir Singh claimed that there was evidence the attackers were members of an Islamist militant group in Pakistan.[307][308]

Addressing the UNGA session on 22 September 2016, Sharif demanded an independent inquiry and a UN fact-finding mission to investigate extrajudicial killing and brutalities perpetrated by security forces in Indian occupied Kashmir.[309][310]

We demand immediate release of all Kashmiri political prisoners; an end to the curfew; freedom for the Kashmiris to demonstrate peacefully; urgent medical help for the injured; and abrogation of India's draconian laws

Nawaz Sharif

After Sharif's UNGA address, India's junior foreign minister M. J. Akbar criticised Sharif for glorifying Burhan Wani.[311][312] Tension's between Pakistan and India further escalated with report's suggesting move of moblisation of military equiqment by both sides.[313][314]


Sharif greeted Afghan President Ashraf Ghani on 15 November 2014 and pledged his support to the Afghan president over his attempt to bring the Taliban to the negotiating table. Al Jazeera reported that 'the leaders also pledged to begin a new era of economic co-operation, with Ghani saying three days of talks had ended 13 years of testy relations'. The two countries also signed a trade deal aimed at doubling trade between the Kabul and Islamabad to $5 billion by 2017, while the two countries also pledged to work together on a power import project and Trans-Afghanistan Pipeline.[315] During the visit Sharif and Ghani also watched a cricket match between the two countries.[316] During the start of June 2016, cross-border shootings between Afghan and Pakistani forces left three people dead after tensions escalated over Pakistan's construction of fence's across the Durand Line.[317] On 20 June 2016, Pakistan completed the construction of a 1,100-kilometre-long trench along Pak-Afghan border in Balochistan.[318]

United States

At the invitation of Barack Obama, Sharif paid an official visit to Washington, D.C. from 20 to 23 October 2013, marking the commitment of both leaders to strengthen US-Pakistan relations and advance shared interests in a stable, secure, and prosperous Pakistan and region, read a press release of White House. Voice of America reported that as a sign of improvement in the ties, the US decided to release more than $1.6 billion in military and economic aid to Pakistan that was suspended when relations between the two countries soured over the covert raid that killed al-Qaida head Osama bin Laden inside Pakistan in 2011.[319]

On Pakistan's request the United States temporarily stopped drone strikes in north-western Pakistan.[320] In March 2016, as one of his many foreign policy successes, the United States Senate blocked a bid to derail the sale of F-16 Falcons to Pakistan by Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Corker, who continued to vow to block the use of US funds to finance the deal.[321][322]

We will extend every help to Pakistan so that it can eliminate terror from its soil.

President Barack Obama remarks on a phone call after the 2016 Lahore suicide bombing.[323]

McCain travelled to Pakistan on 26 July 2016 to meet civilian and military leaders and to discuss counterterrorism efforts in the region. In an OpEd for the Financial Times, McCain called upon US and Pakistani leaders not to "allow ambivalence and suspicion to fester", adding that "common interests in counterterrorism, nuclear security and regional stability are too important and too urgent". He also called the Obama administration to "make clear its enduring commitment to Pakistan's stability and economic growth."[324] McCain also visited Miramshah in North Waziristan.[325]

Republican Congressmen Ted Poe and Dana Rohrabacher moved a bill in the US Congress on 21 September to designate Pakistan as a State Sponsor of Terrorism.[326] Three days later, United States Senator John McCain assured former Pakistani president Asif Ali Zardari that a bill currently before the US Senate for branding Pakistan a "sponsor of terrorism" will not succeed. McCain emphasised that the legislation should not be seen as a deterioration of the US-Pakistan relations since the sponsors of the resolution were a small minority within the Senate.[327]

Sharif called Donald Trump on 1 December to congratulate him on his election to the White House. During the conversation, Trump praised Pakistan's prime minister and its people. The statement released by Sharif's office quoted Trump as terming Sharif as a "terrific guy", adding that Pakistan is a "fantastic country, fantastic place".[328] Trump Tower put out a statement saying the two sides "had a productive conversation about how the United States and Pakistan will have a strong working relationship in the future."[329] On 3 December 2016, Dawn reported that a consensus US National Defence Authorisation Act for fiscal year 2017 was set to be approved by the United States Congress which would recognise Pakistan as a key strategic partner and pledges more than $900 million in economic and other assistance to the country, but the bill also conditions $450 million from this assistance to a certification from the US Defence Secretary that Pakistan is committed to fighting all terrorist groups, including the Haqqani network.[330]


Sharif visited London on 30 April 2014 and met David Cameron; he also met the Deputy Prime Minister, the Foreign Secretary, Home Secretary, Defence Secretary, Secretary of State for International Development and delivered a keynote address at the Pakistan Investment Conference. According to a press release issued by 10 Downing Street, the two leaders agreed to work together to support the Pakistan's implementation of critical economic reforms, particularly to increase the tax to GDP ratio towards 15% and welcomed the developing relationship between the Federal Board of Revenue and HM Revenue and Customs to support this.[331] Sharif attended the 2014 Nuclear Security Summit, addressing the conference he claimed that Pakistan attaches highest importance to nuclear security because it is directly linked to our national security. Pakistan is a responsible nuclear weapons state. We pursue a policy of nuclear restraint, as well as credible minimum deterrence.[332] On 11 November 2014, Sharif visited Berlin where he met with the German Chancellor Angela Merkel, according to Deutsche Welle, during the meeting Sharif argued a case for more German investment particularly in the energy sector, but Merkel expressed wariness over the security situation in Pakistan.[333]

Muslim world

Bahrain's ruler King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa started a three-day official visit to Pakistan on 18 March 2014, becoming the first visit of the King of Bahrain to Pakistan in four decades, during the trip the two sides signed six agreements hoping to draw investment from the oil-rich Gulf country.

Sharif supported the Saudi-led intervention in Bahrain and in his visit to Saudi Arabia he reassured that he would "help devise a new battle plan for Saudi intervention in the country."[334]

Saudi Arabia

Sharif is said to enjoy exceptionally close ties with senior members of the Saudi royal family. Pakistan Today reported on 2 April 2014 that Pakistan will sell JF-17 Thunder jets to Saudi Arabia, after the kingdom had given a grant of $1.5 billion to Pakistan in early 2014.[335][336] Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Salman bin Abdulaziz al-Saud arrived in Pakistan on 15 February to meet Sharif where he vowed to enhance work between the two countries towards common issues to serve their both their interests regionally and internationally.[337] Sharif travelled to Saudi Arabia to spend the last 10 days of Ramadan. King Abdullah said on 26 July that Saudi Arabia would always stand by Pakistan, its leadership and people, after an hour-long meeting with Sharif at his Riyadh. Sharif also met Muqrin bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, while Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud refereed Pakistan as his 'second home'.[338]

Al-Monitor reported on 15 March 2015 that the Salman of Saudi Arabia wanted firm assurances from Sharif that Pakistan would align itself with Saudi Arabia and its Sunni Arab allies against Iran, especially in the proxy war now underway in Yemen. Salman specifically wanted a Pakistani military contingent to deploy to the kingdom to help defend the vulnerable borders, Sharif has reluctantly decided not to send troops to Saudi Arabia for now. Sharif promised closer counter-terrorism and military co-operation but no troops for the immediate future.[339] On 11 January 2016, Time claimed that Pakistan is caught between Iran and Saudi Arabia. In their first foreign trips this year, a high level delegation including Adel al-Jubeir and Mohammad bin Salman Al Saud travelled to Islamabad to seek Pakistan's inclusion in the 34-country "Islamic military alliance", however Sharif struck a more conciliatory tone, suggesting that Islamabad was willing to play the role of mediator between Saudi Arabia and Iran.[340] On 19 January 2016, Sharifs of Pakistan (Nawaz Sharif and Chief of Army Staff Raheel Sharif) embarked on a peace mission to Riyadh and Tehran to try to reduce the tensions between two countries which started with the execution of Sheikh Nimr.[341] On 16 March 2016, Zee News, claimed that Saudi Arabia is creating a military alliance of Islamic countries on the lines of the NATO, asking Pakistan to lead the proposed alliance.[342][343]


In 2014, during the visit of Russian Defence Minister Sergey Shoygu-led, 41-member high-level delegation, Pakistan and Russia signed an agreement on military co-operation. Shoygu held in-depth talk with Sharif, afterwards Sharif promised to promote a multi-dimensional relations with Russia.[344] The meeting came months after Russia had lifted an embargo on supplying weapons and military hardware to Pakistan, starting with Mil Mi-24 helicopters.[345] As a sign of improving ties, on 23 September 2016 Russian forces arrived in Pakistan to participate in joint military exercises.[346]

Public image

Writing for The Guardian in 2013, Jon Boone termed Sharif's "desire for improved diplomatic and trade relations with India and a reduced role of the army in national life has won over some liberal-minded Pakistanis who were once suspicious of the religious leanings of a man who tried to introduce Sharia Law in the late 90s before a military coup sent him into exile in Saudi Arabia".[347] In another column, The Guardian described Sharif's first two terms in the 1990s as "(he) locked up journalists, tried to enact sharia law and sacked the supreme court" adding that "a billionaire steel magnate, he was dogged by allegations that some of his wealth had come through kickbacks on government contracts, illegal write-offs of loans and blatant tax evasion". Further adding that "but old foes and longstanding friends say Sharif is a changed man" from the man who "went into politics in the late 1970s to defend family interests after his father's metal factories were nationalised by the PPP".[348]

Tim Craig, writing in March 2016 for The Washington Post, described Sharif's move away from social conservatism as "the shift in tone can be traced to Sharif's ambitious economic agenda, the influence his 42-year-old daughter has over him, and his awareness that Pakistan remains the butt of jokes, according to his friends, senior government officials and analysts".[349] Afrasiab Khattak described Sharif's shift as "Sharif may still be right-of-center, but he knows extremism is not good for business".[349] Sharif's advisor Miftah Ismail described him as "a very religious guy", adding however "he is perfectly okay with other people not being religious".[349] Writing for The Express Tribune in 2016, Fahd Hussain stated that Sharif will likely will face "blowback from its natural allies among the clergy", adding that with "the bulk of the Punjab conservative voter [remaining] in the Sharif camp", Sharif is eyeing for the "liberal, progressive, left-of-centre voters".[350]

Leftist Senator Raza Rabbani claimed that Sharif "has always had these rightwing leanings", adding that "the temptation was there in the past to appease his rightwing Islamist constituency".[348] Mushahid Hussain Syed, a former member of Sharif's cabinet, described Sharif's religious leanings as "he is quite a good Muslim in terms of belief and basic rituals like prayer and going to Mecca" adding however, "in cultural terms he is quite relaxed. He likes music and movies and has a good sense of humour. He is not your average type of serious, sulking fundo."[348] Mohammed Hanif, writing in 2013, claimed that "if Sharif wasn't from the dominant province Punjab, where most of the army elite comes from, if he didn't represent the trading and business classes of Punjab, he would still be begging forgiveness for his sins in Saudi".[351]

Author Edward A. Gargan writing in November 1991 described Sharif's government as "bedeviled by gossip, barraged by accusations of venality, castigated by the opposition and threatened by a final rupture of cordiality with the United States".[352] The same year Najam Sethi described Sharif's government as "it is corrupt, absolutely, astronomically corrupt, including the Prime Minister".[352] In 2009, The New York Times commenting on Sharif's relationship with the U.S wrote that "Bhutto and her Pakistan Peoples Party were considered more amenable allies for Washington" adding that "more nationalistic and religiously oriented, he (Sharif) and his party, the Pakistan Muslim League-N, have traditionally found common cause with the religious parties".[353] Pervez Hoodbhoy described "Sharif as a reflection of (the) Pakistani society" adding that "he is silent on what matters most: the insurgency. What we need is a leader."[353] Celia W. Dugger, writing in 1999, described Sharif's Raiwind Palace as "walls paneled in silken fabrics and rococo chairs laden with so much gold leaf they looked like they belonged in the court of Louis XIV or a bordello", drawing comparison between Sharif's lifestyle and that of the "Mughals".[354]


After his return to power, a protest movement led by Imran Khan, Tahir-ul-Qadri and supported by rival factions of the Muslim League, such as the Pakistan Muslim League-Q (PLM-Q) and Awami Muslim League (AML), meant that pressure mounted on the Sharif government. Khan demanded the prime minister's resignation for the government's inadequate response in addressing and resolving allegations that the 2013 general election was rigged.[355] Sharif claimed to have support from the majority of the parties in Parliament. Khan alleged that the 2013 general elections were rigged, and the PML-N claimed that they were the most free and fair elections in the country's history. Sharif was also criticised by his opponents for running a system of patronage in which relatives were appointed to key state positions such as his brother as Chief Minister, and other relatives as Ministers in the federal government.[356][357][358] Opposition leader Syed Khurshid Ahmed Shah said on 30 September 2014 that the Prime Minister may voluntarily recall mid-term elections.[359][360]

The Express Tribune claimed on 20 April 2015 that Sharif administration misled the International Monetary Fund (IMF) over the actual tax charged on the issuance of bonus shares, as collection from supposedly the biggest source of income tax in the year stands at a mere Rs. 1 billion. As against the actual income tax rate of 5% on the value of bonus shares, the government told the IMF that it levied a 10% tax, which will generate revenue equal to 0.1% of gross domestic product or Rs. 29 billion.[361]

Human rights activist Sabeen Mahmud was shot dead on 24 April 2015 in Karachi minutes after she attended a talk she had organised on Human rights violations in Balochistan. Civil society activists and investigators alleged that she was killed for her activism and for being outspoken on various contentious topics, from extremism to state-sponsored abuses. The talk that Mahmud organised that night was initially supposed to be hosted at the Lahore University of Management Sciences however the university cancelled it a day before it was scheduled, saying it was pressured by government authorities to do so.[362] Sharif officially condemned the killing however Dawn claimed that there is a little chance her murderers will ever be brought to justice given the recent history of impunity among those who target the country's marginalised liberals.

Around 2,000 far-right protesters led by Sunni Tehreek staged a sit-in at D-Chowk in front of the parliament in Islamabad on 27 March 2016, causing a partial halt to the capital city. The protestors demanded the implementation of Sharia in the country and declaring Mumtaz Qadri a martyr. The protestors also burned down cars and city main public transit station and injured journalists and bystanders.[363] The government on the 28th called in the army to control the law and order.[364] By 29th the crowd had shrunk to 700 protestors, however the government remained reluctant to use force against the protesters.[365] On 30 March 2016, the protesters ended their protest after government assured not to amend in blasphemy laws.[366] On 7 April 2016, The Express Tribune in an editorial claimed that Sharif's multibillion-rupee health insurance plan seems to be failing already because of poor planning, claiming that the basic health infrastructure doesn't allow for such a plan.[367][368]

Imran Khan began mobilising worker's to lockdown Islamabad until Sharif resign's and face's a corruption inquiry on 29 October 2016. In response, Sharif government placed a citywide ban on gatherings and the arrested hundreds of opposition activists accused of defying the ban. The government also arrested scores of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf worker's and shut the motorway leading from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. On 1 November, Khan called off protest's after the Supreme Court said it would form a judicial commission to probe allegations stemming from the "Panama Papers" leaks about the Sharif family's offshore wealth.[369] In the first week of January, four Pakistani activists known on social media for their secular leftist views went missing this week.[370]

The Economist, writing in January 2017, criticised Sharif's spending on infrastructure, it added that "Pakistan's infrastructure is underused because the economic boom it was meant to trigger has never arrived." Talking about the China–Pakistan Economic Corridor, the magazine wrote that "critics fear the country will struggle to pay back the debt, especially if foreign-exchange earnings from exports continue to dwindle" further adding that "It may not concern Mr. Sharif unduly if the next generation of roads is as deserted as the last."[371]

Wealth and conglomerates

The growth of Pakistan's industry, which occurred under President Ayub Khan during the 1960s,[372] was destroyed by the nationalisation program instituted by prime minister Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, to halt capital flight from the country to Eastern Europe.[372] This program included nationalisation of Ittefaq Group and many other large enterprises.[373]

Although the steel mill was returned to the Sharif family in 1980, havoc had already wrought.[372] The Sharif family plays a large role in the industrial growth of Pakistan and is expanding its steel business by employing state-of-the-art technology in Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and the Middle East.[374][375] In 2011, Sharif's assets were worth Rs 166 million, which increased to Rs 1.82 billion by 2013.[376] In 2012 his net income was Rs. 12.4 million ($1.24 million)[377] He was one of five billionaires elected to Pakistan's National Assembly in 2013.[378] In 2015, his declared assets slightly decreased to Rs. 1.75 billion ($17.5 Million).[379] As of 2017 his net worth is over 1 billion.[1]

2016 Panama Papers leak

According to the Panama Papers, documents leaked in 2016 from law firm Mossack Fonseca that disclose client information, Nawaz Sharif's family holds millions of dollars worth of property and companies in the UK, and around the world.[380] The Mossack Fonseca documents do not name either Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif or his younger brother, Punjabi Chief Minister Shebaz Sharif. They do however link in-laws of Shebaz Sharif and children of Nawaz Sharif to offshore companies.[381][382]

The documents reveal that Nawaz Sharif's children Hassan, Husein and Maryam have multiple properties in the United Kingdoms through a set-up of at least four offshore companies in the British Virgin Islands. Mossack Fonseca records tie Nawaz daughter Maryam Nawaz and her brothers Hussein and Hassan to four offshore companies, Nescoll Limited, Nielson Holdings Limited, Coomber Group Inc., and Hangon Property Holdings Limited.[383] The companies acquired at least six upmarket real estate properties in 2006–2007 near London's Hyde Park.[384] The real estate was used as collateral for loans of up to $13.8 million, according to the Panama Papers documents.[385] The prime minister's children say the money came from the sale of a family business in Saudi Arabia.[385] Maryam Nawaz tweeted denial of wrongdoing, adding that she did not own "any company/property abroad", except as a trustee in a brother's corporation, "which only entitles me to distribute assets to my brother Hussain's family/children if needed".[386] The leaked documents name her the sole beneficial owner of Nescoll, created in 1993, and Nielson, first registered in 1994. The two companies subscribed to Mossack Fonseca services in July 2006. The Panama Papers name Maryam as the joint owner with her brother Hussain of Coomber Group. Mossack Fonseca was managing Nescoll, Nielsen Holdings, and Coomber Group when the three companies obtained a £7 million mortgage from the Swiss bank, Deutsche Bank (Suisse) SA and purchased four flats in Avenfield House, at 118 Park Lane in London.

Hassan, the other brother, whose name is sometimes spelled "Hasan", bought Hangon Holdings and its stock in 2007 for £5.5 million; Hangon then bought property, financed through the Bank of Scotland, at One Hyde Park in London, which a real estate agency calls "the finest building in England" and an architectural historian "an oversized gated community"; 59 of the 76 apartments that had been sold by January 2013 were owned by offshore shell companies.[387] Hassan also lists the Park Avenue address for an additional six companies registered in the United Kingdom of which he is a director, according to the British business registry Companies House. A seventh, Flagship Development, is listed at Stanhope House in Stanhope Place, near Marble Arch.[388]

Samina Durrani, mother of Shebaz Sharif's second wife Aaliya Honey, and Ilyas Mehraj, brother of his first wife Begum Nusrat Shahbaz, also figure in the documents. Habib Waqas Group/Ilyas Mehraj is listed as a shareholder with 127,735 shares in Haylandale Limited, registered 24 July 2003 in the Bahamas. Mehraj denied knowing anything about "any company whether incorporated in the Commonwealth of Bahamas or anywhere else under the name Haylandale Ltd".[381] Rainbow Limited, the newest of the three offshore companies owned by Samina Durrani, was registered 29 September 2010 in the British Virgin Islands (BVI).[381] Armani River Limited, registered in the Bahamas on 16 May 2002, describes its assets as "property in London, which is not currently rented".[381] Assets of Star Precision Limited, registered in BVI 21 May 1997 were reported as "cash as the investment portfolio. We are also holding 1,165,238 shares in Orix Leasing Pakistan Limited."[381] Hussain Nawaz, whose name sometines appears as Husein or Hussein, said his family won't impede any investigation, and urged one of former president Pervez Musharraf as well.[389] The government on 15 April announced an investigation by an inquiry commission of all Pakistanis named in the documents. Opposition politicians said a judge, not a retired judge, should investigate. Various judges have already recused themselves. In addition, on 19 April 2016 Army Chief General Raheel Sharif warned that across-the-board accountability is needed.[390]

The court announced its decision on 28 July 2017 and disqualified Prime Minister from holding public office as he had been dishonest in not disclosing his employment in the Dubai-based Capital FZE company in his nomination papers.[391] The court also ordered National Accountability Bureau to file a reference against Sharif and his family against corruption charges.[392][393][394][395]

Eponymous entities

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Further reading

Political offices
Preceded by
Sadiq Hussain Qureshi
Chief Minister of Punjab
Succeeded by
Ghulam Haider Wyne
Preceded by
Ghulam Mustafa Jatoi
Prime Minister of Pakistan
Succeeded by
Balakh Sher Mazari
Preceded by
Balakh Sher Mazari
Prime Minister of Pakistan
Succeeded by
Moeenuddin Ahmad Qureshi
Preceded by
Benazir Bhutto
Leader of the Opposition
Succeeded by
Benazir Bhutto
Preceded by
Malik Meraj Khalid
Prime Minister of Pakistan
Succeeded by
Pervez Musharraf
as Chief Executive of Pakistan
Preceded by
Shahid Hamid
Minister of Defence
Succeeded by
Pervez Musharraf
Preceded by
Sartaj Aziz
Minister of Finance

Succeeded by
Ishaq Dar
Preceded by
Mir Hazar Khan Khoso
Prime Minister of Pakistan
Succeeded by
Shahid Khaqan Abbasi
Minister of Defence
Succeeded by
Khawaja Asif
Party political offices
Preceded by
Fida Mohammad Khan
Leader of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz
Succeeded by
Kalsoom Nawaz Sharif
Preceded by
Shehbaz Sharif
Leader of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz
Succeeded by
Sardar Yaqoob
Preceded by
Sardar Yaqoob
Leader of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz
Succeeded by
Shehbaz Sharif
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