By Prarthana Mitra
Former Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, on Saturday, ruffled more than a few feathers when he openly acknowledged that militant organisations operative in Pakistan, crossed the border to “kill” people in Mumbai, in an apparent reference to the 26/11 attacks in Mumbai.
While the Congress party and the armed forces of India immediately asked for diplomatic measures to be taken against Pakistan for repeated terrorist involvement, tensions were high in the neighbouring state as the Pakistani Army, and several political outfits appeared “extremely upset”, and conducted a flurry of meetings to manage the fallout of a “PR disaster”.
On Monday, a petition to register a treason case was filed against Sharif, on the grounds that his comments could potentially hurt the nation’s security and its institutions.
Here’s what happened
Without naming any names, ousted prime minister Nawaz Sharif, made controversial statements in an interview to DAWN, when he questioned Islamabad’s policy to allow the “non-state actors” to cross the border and “kill” people in Mumbai in 2008, PTI reported.
“Call them non-state actors, should we allow them to cross the border and kill over 150 people in Mumbai? Explain it to me. Why can’t we complete the trial?” questioned Sharif, referring to the legal battle over those accused of involvement in the 26/11 terror attacks.
In the midst of mounting support in favour of a trial for treason, Sharif continues to defend his comments, backed by Pakistan’s current PM Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, who claimed Sharif’s comments have been “misreported” and pledged full support to Sharif and their party. After an emergency meeting with the National Security Committee of Pakistan, Abbasi addressed the media saying, “Indian media is giving the issue a different hue, and we should not be a part of it”.
Sharif’s own party, the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), however, issued a statement dismissing all claims with regard to their Quaid (Supreme Leader)’s remarks on the Mumbai terror attacks. Sharif’s daughter and party spokesperson, Maryam Nawaz Sharif, later clarified, “PML-N would like to set the record straight on the interview of PML-N Quaid carried yesterday by DAWN. At the outset, statement of the Quaid has been grossly misinterpreted by the Indian media.”
Sharif’s statement has left the Pakistan Army extremely worried that “this will give more weight to India’s narrative that Pakistan is not doing enough” with respect to the 26/11 trial, and could even put Pakistan on the blacklist of global financial trade agreements.
Cricketer-turned-politician, and leading opposition leader Imran Khan, vehemently condemned Sharif’s comments, claiming that Sharif was playing to get into Narendra Modi’s good books.
Today NS stands exposed before the nation. To try & protect his wrongdoings he is not only willing to destroy all Pak State institutions, including army, NAB, SC, but also the future of our country. https://t.co/iRgVL0JoIW
— Imran Khan (@ImranKhanPTI) May 13, 2018
Why you should care
The Indian government has long accused the Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) for spearheading the attacks. The Indian authorities believe that LeT’s emissaries arrived on a boat from Karachi and carried out the violent strikes across Mumbai, in coordination with Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) agency. The trial for the attacks, which claimed the lives of 166 people, has been a long-drawn out one, with Pakistan failing to deliver commensurate justice, citing lack of evidence as a reason.
On Sunday, the Congress party demanded that the Centre should expose Pakistan’s terrorist activities in India, to the international community. Congress leader Pawan Khera called for action, by the international community, against Pakistan, for carrying out terrorist activities in India. India’s Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman also harped on Sharif’s comments, claiming that the Indian intelligence units have also maintained the same narrative, of how the 2008 attacks went down, for the longest time.
As Sharif faces ire from all quarters in his homeland, his admission may tear down Pakistan’s construct of lies and denials regarding the lethal Mumbai attack, revealing a crack in the revisionist state’s effort to control the narrative.
Prarthana Mitra is a staff writer at Qrius.
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