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Nawaz Sharif Becomes Prime Minister for Third Time: A Testing Period for Him but Dismissed Anyway

Updated on June 28, 2021
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MG is an air warrior with a distinguished career and now a corporate advisor, writer, and intrepid traveler and novelist

Nawaz Sharif

Nawaz Sharif is a Punjabi politician from Punjab. He is the leader of the Pakistan Muslim League –Nawaz party (PML-N). Nawaz Sharif has been Prime Minister on two occasions earlier in 1993 and 1999. On both these occasions, he crossed swords with the Army and had to leave office. In his first stint as Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif did not find favor with the then Army Chief and he had to resign.

Nawaz’s and the Pakistan Army

On the second occasion, he was toppled by a military coup led by his protégé General Parvez Musharraf. Nawaz Sharif was tried and sentenced to life imprisonment and an additional 14 years in jail. During this phase of his prime ministership, he invited the Indian Prime Minister AB Vajpayee to Pakistan. But unknown to him his protégé General Musharraf launched an invasion against India in Kargil. He also overthrew Nawaz and tried him for treason. But friendly governments notably Saudi Arabia interceded on his behalf. Because of pressure from the Saudi monarchy who were bankrolling the Pakistan economy, Musharraf had no choice but to allow Nawaz to leave Pakistan for exile, in Saudi Arabia. He returned in 2007 and contested the general elections.

Night of the generals, more important than political leaders
Night of the generals, more important than political leaders

Return of Nawaz Sharif

Nawaz was sent into exile for 10 years but he returned and took part in the election. By this time General Musharraf fearing impeachment resigned and Nawaz could breathe freely. In the election, the People s party was the winner, but Nawaz Sharif played the part of a responsible opposition.

The previous two stints of Nawaz Sharif were marred by a deep distrust between him and the army. This is so because Pakistan during the 74 years of its existence has been governed by the military for half that period. From the time when General Ayub Khan in a military coup seized power in 1958, the army has become a permanent factor in Pakistan politics. A string of generals followed Ayub Khan. In between, there were sporadic attempts at civilian rule notably after the defeat in Bangladesh which discredited the army.

Earlier stints as PM

Nawaz Sharif became prime minister in 1993. But he was dismissed by President Ghulam Ishaq Khan. Nawaz was reinstated by the Supreme Court, but opposition from the army forced him to tender his resignation. His second stint was equally disastrous. He had difficulties with General Jahangir Karamat. In a bid to upstage General Karamat he promoted a relatively junior officer, General Pervez Musharraf, as the army chief. This was an extremely short-sighted step and showed that Sharif was a poor judge of men.

His second stint was marred by indecision, though he had a majority. He had a head-on clash, with his own protégé and was overthrown and imprisoned.

Took this man just 17 hours to topple the elected government.
Took this man just 17 hours to topple the elected government.

The last tenure

The situation now in 2013 was a little different, but the army was still omnipotent. The army chief still called the shots. Nawaz won a landslide majority this time, but the army was breathing down his neck. He established a record by becoming the first prime minister in Pakistan to hold this chair for the third time.

The economy was worse than in 1999. There was runaway inflation and the balance of payments dangerously low. A point that needs to be emphasized is that Nawaz Sharif’s party has a significant presence only in the Punjab province and its presence in other states was minimal. This was a significant drawback as far as Sharif is concerned. In addition, Shariff was wary of the army, which has never liked him. Thus, Nawaz Sharif, had one arm tied behind his back. He also irritated the army by putting on trial Musharraf who had returned to Pakistan from exile on charges of treason and murder.

Last word

Nawaz Sharif was sworn in as Prime Minister of Pakistan by President Asif Zaradari at an impressive ceremony on 5 June 2103. From the word ‘go’ he was a prisoner of the army as despite his friendly noises and overtures to India the Pakistan army has begun a series of violations of the ceasefire. The line of control in Kashmir is again made alive and Sharif perforce had to toe the line.

The ghost of the past caught up with Sharif. He had selected General Bajwa as the army chief. The army did not want him as prime minister and the NAB began proceedings against him for corruption. Nawaz had to resign as Prime Minister as he was supposed to be facing corruption charges In a swift trial he was sentenced to 10 years in prison. It is hard to believe that his trial was completed so expeditiously, while trials of terrorists continue for over10 years with no end in sight.

In jail, his condition deteriorated and he was given bail for medical treatment but obviously, he was not going to come back and he's now in London. The army will never let him come back and have installed their puppet Imran Khan as Prime Minister.


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