It was a press conference about everything and nothing. It was the kind of press conference that an ousted prime minister holds before he knows he may be jailed when he flies home. It was the kind of press conference at which answers are given in the questions asked.
Nawaz Sharif spoke to the media in London on Wednesday about the judgement against him and his family. He, his daughter Maryam Nawaz and son-in-law Safdar were sentenced to 10, eight and one year in prison, respectively, in the Avenfield properties case this week. He and his daughter are scheduled to fly home on Friday.
“I am returning to my country even though I foresee iron bars,” said a resurgent Nawaz Sharif, addressing a press conference in London on Wednesday.
“I had been advised not to return to Pakistan but I am still heading to my country.”
The judge had said that the National Accountability Bureau had failed to produce any evidence against me, he added.
“I have handed over my ailing wife to Allah and am going back to Pakistan.” His wife, Kulsoom Nawaz, is being treated for cancer in London.
Nawaz Sharif, who ostensibly heads the PML-N, has been facing defections right into election season. He questioned who was making his candidates change their loyalties.
He also brought up the environment of censorship. “Who are the people putting curbs on the independent media?” he asked. “Who is closing media channels [down] and launching their own channels?”
“Why have our old friends stopped supporting us,” he asked. “Were they also involved in the Dawn Leaks?”
“They are playing with the fate of the country. The time to keep a lid on things is gone; it’s time to unveil the facts.”
The mission of a few people was accomplished when he was ousted from PM House in July last year, he said.
“I would have become prime minister, had I wanted to,” he said, referring to what could be understood as the more compliant way of doing politics. “I could have bowed down and taken the easy way out, if I wanted to become PM again.”
He made it a point to pay tribute to the martyrs of the Pakistan Army and said he loved all of them and would sacrifice everything for them. As with such press conferences, the need to make such references are understood to be part of the message.
Mr Sharif said that some people had become part of what he called a conspiracy against democracy.
“Those pulling the strings will be unmasked,” he warned. “This is the reason I shouted the slogan Vote ko Izzat do.”