Pakistan’s former prime minister accuses army of political interference

Pakistan’s former prime minister accuses army of political interference
Pakistani news channels show former prime minister Nawaz Sharif’s speech (AP/Anjum Naveed)

Pakistan’s ailing former prime minister Nawaz Sharif has accused the country’s powerful military of political interference.

Speaking in a televised speech from exile in London, he said the military had rigged the 2018 vote that brought the country’s current prime minister to power.

The 70-year-old Mr Sharif has had a long uneasy relationship with the military, with his televised tirade the latest confrontation.

“I will never reconcile with those who violate the constitution by indulging in politics,” Mr Sharif said, listing ways he said the 2018 election was rigged to bring Prime Minister Imran Khan to power.

Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan (CNN)

He said interfering in politics in uniform amounts to treason under the country’s constitution.

His allegations sparked an angry response from Mr Khan, who in his own televised remarks said Mr Sharif was “playing a very dangerous game” by humiliating the military and intelligence services. He dismissed the allegations of rigged elections as baseless.

Mr Sharif served as Pakistan’s prime minister three times, first removed by a president in 1993, then by military ruler Pervez Musharraf in 1999. A court in 2017 ousted him from power over corruption allegations. Mr Khan, a former cricketer, came to power in 2018.

Mr Sharif spoke from London, where he has been since last November when he was released on bail to seek medical treatment abroad.

At the time, a court permitted Mr Sharif to leave the country for four weeks, but he did not return. A court last month issued arrest warrants for Mr Sharif, previously sentenced to seven years in prison on corruption and money laundering charges stemming from disclosures in the Panama Papers.

Mr Sharif’s remarks came days after Pakistan’s opposition vowed to hold rallies in October to pressure Mr Khan to resign.

Mr Sharif was targeted by similar mass protests during his rule by Mr Khan, who has refused to resign. Mr Khan said he will not withdraw the corruption cases against Mr Sharif.

Mr Khan said his government will bring Mr Sharif back from London through a court order.

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