New low in Nawaz Sharif's political journey

Nawaz Sharif listens to a reporter during a press conference

Dubai - Sharif's background consisted mainly of business, though his attention was always steered towards politics.

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By Sarwat Nasir

Published: Sat 29 Jul 2017, 12:00 AM

Last updated: Sat 29 Jul 2017, 10:19 AM

Nawaz Sharif has spent more than three decades on Pakistan's political scene and had been elected prime minister three times. Even though, the time length may give an idea of Sharif's "high level of experience" in politics, his track record and rocky political journey speak volumes of his position as a political leader.
Sharif's background consisted mainly of business, though his attention was always steered towards politics. His passion for politics was initiated by how his family business was being affected by the government's policies at the time. Prime Minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto had introduced nationalisation policies in 1972, leading to takeover of Sharif's family-run steel business by the government. It was then that he decided to join politics, so he could claim back his family business - which he eventually did.
By 1976, he had joined the Pakistan Muslim League and not long after, in 1981, he was appointed as Punjab's finance minister - starting his almost four-decade long precarious political career. The then-Punjab governor, Ghulam Jilani Khan, was the man behind Sharif's getting his first break as a minister.
He started becoming popular amongst Punjab's leaders when he proposed new development budgets during his position as finance minister. The financial plans he implemented in his province contributed to growth and development. His achievements did not go unnoticed and served him well for his future political career. In 1985, just four years after his appointment as Punjab's finance minister, Sharif was nominated as Punjab chief minister he and won the elections. He served two terms, gaining popularity in the Punjab province.  It didn't take long for Sharif to go from a provincial leader to a national leader - he was sworn in as prime minister of Pakistan in 1990, under the presidency of Ghulam Ishaq Khan. He defeated Benazir Bhutto's Pakistan People's Party and secured his first term as a prime minister. During his first tenure, he focused on the country's infrastructure and supported industrialisation.
However, in 1993, Sharif was accused of corruption and mismanagement by the president Ishaq Khan. His family-run business was doing suspiciously well during his time as prime minister. Khan eventually used his powers to dissolve the National Assembly, removing Sharif from his position of prime minister. A few months later, the Supreme Court called Khan's move as unlawful and unconstitutional and reinstated Sharif's position. Although, the feud between Khan and Sharif continued, causing them both to resign two months after the court's decision. Khan had accused Sharif of corruption.
Benazir became prime minister again and served until 1996. Meanhwile, Sharif, the leader of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PMLN) party was trying to stage a comeback. He won majority of votes and secured a second tenure as prime minister in 1997.
During his return, Sharif passed the 13th Amendment to the Constitution of Pakistan, which said the president did not have power to dismiss a prime minister - a decision that was surely inspired by his experience during his first tenure as prime minister. He also passed the 14th Amendment, which gave party leaders power to dismiss any of their legislators if they did not vote for who they were asked to vote for - making it indirectly impossible to dismiss a prime minister. These two amendments made the removal of a prime minister difficult. He was becoming even more popular amongst the Pakistani masses, particularly in the Punjab, his home province.
Though, Sharif was not so popular among the army chiefs of Pakistan. In 1998, after General Jahangir Karamat resigned, Sharif appointed General Pervez Musharraf as the army chief - completely unaware of the dark clouds Musharraf would bring over Sharif's political career and personal life.
Sharif fired the army chief in 1999, while Musharraf was on a commercial jet, flying to Karachi. Musharraf orchestrated a military bloodless coup from the plane and later arrested Sharif, charging him with hijacking, conspiracy to commit murder and treason. The Supreme Court upheld the hijacking charge and Musharraf exiled Sharif out of the country for 10 years. In 2000, Sharif was convicted of corruption, after he failed to declare assets and taxes during his time as prime minister, adding 14 years of imprisonment. Though, the Saudi Royal family came to his rescue and he went into exile in Saudi Arabia from 2000 to 2007. He returned to Pakistan in 2007.
In 2009, after the Supreme Court cleared the hijacking charges, Sharif was allowed to run again for prime minister - an opportunity he was not going to miss. He won the 2013 elections and secured a third term as prime minister of Pakistan.

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