Mian Muhammad Nawaz Sharif (Urdu: ???? ???? ???? ???? ) (born December 25, 1949
in Lahore, Punjab, Pakistan) is a Pakistani politician. He was twice elected
as Prime Minister of Pakistan, serving two non-consecutive terms, the first from
November 1, 1990 to July 18, 1993 and the second from February 17, 1997 to
October 12, 1999. His party is the Pakistan Muslim League N (Nawaz group). He is
best known internationally for ordering Pakistan's 1998 nuclear tests in
response to India’s nuclear tests, his conduct of the Kargil War against
India, and the abrupt end of his final term in a dramatic coup by General Pervez
Prime Minister of Pakistan
17 February 1997 – 12 October 1999
President Farooq Leghari
Preceded by Malik Meraj Khalid
Succeeded by Pervez Musharraf
26 May 1993 – 18 July 1993
President Ghulam Ishaq Khan
Preceded by Balakh Sher Mazari
Succeeded by Moeenuddin Ahmad Qureshi
06 November 1990 – 18 April 1993
President Ghulam Ishaq Khan
Preceded by Ghulam Mustafa Jatoi
Succeeded by Balakh Sher Mazari
Born 25 December 1949 (1949-12-25) (age 58)
Political party PML
Religion Sunni Islam
His family was a prominent merchant family in the Kashmir valley. His father,
Muhammad Sharif, migrated in 1947 to Pakistan, during the partition. Muhammad
Sharif was a businessman and co-owned the Ittefaq Group of Industries.
Nawaz Sharif was educated at Saint Anthony’s High School and Government College
Lahore, and received a law degree from University of the Punjab. Following his
education, he entered Punjab provincial politics, joining the Punjab advisory
district council. He became finance minister of Punjab in 1981 and also served
as minister of sports. He was credited with increasing funding for sports
activities and rural projects.
Nawaz was a cricketer during his early life, and played a first class game in
the 1973-74 season representing Pakistan Railways. He also played a side match
against West Indies when he was prime minister.
He married Kulsoom Nawaz, who is the grand-niece of the famous Kashmiri wrestler
- The Great Gama.
Chief Minister of Punjab
Nawaz Sharif began his first term as Chief Minister of Punjab province on April
9, 1985 under the Martial Law Regime of General Zia-ul-Haq, who was his
political mentor. On May 31, 1988 he was appointed caretaker Chief Minister
after the dismissal of assemblies by Zia. After the 1988 general elections which
followed Zia’s death in a plane crash, he was again elected as Chief Minister of
Punjab. He remained in the position until he became prime minister in 1990.
Nawaz Sharif was considered by some to be a man of the establishment. He was
elected as the Leader of the Pakistan Muslim League and subsequently the IJI
(Islamic Democratic Alliance) by the ISI (Pakistan's Intelligence Agency) as
documented in the testimony of the then Army Chief in the Supreme Court of
Sharif first became Prime Minister on November 1, 1990, running on a platform of
right wing conservatives and vowing for an end to corruption. His term was thus
interrupted on April 18, 1993, when President Ghulam Ishaq Khan used the reserve
powers vested in him by the Eighth Amendment to dissolve the National Assembly
and appointed Mir Balakh Sher Mazari as the caretaker prime minister. Within six
weeks, the Supreme Court overruled the President, reconstituting the National
Assembly and returning Sharif to power on May 26. Sharif resigned from office
along with President Ghulam Ishaq Khan on July 18, 1993, after his feud with the
president, who had accused him of corruption. Moin Qureshi became caretaker
prime minister, and was succeeded shortly thereafter by Benazir Bhutto, who was
elected to office on October 19, 1993.
Sharif returned to power in February 1997 with such a huge majority that the
result was immediately questioned by Bhutto's Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP).
Sharif won by obtaining 90 percent of the national votes cast. Doubts against
the authenticity of the national elections always persist and are nearly always
contended by Pakistan's losing party. Tony Blair stated in a January interview
that he "believed the election was true". Nawaz Sharif, therefore, holds the
record in Pakistani politics for securing the heaviest mandate in a general
election in Pakistan.
One of Sharif's first acts during his second term was to orchestrate the
scrapping of Article 58-(2)(b) through another Amendment to the Constitution—an
exercise in which Sharif’s party was joined by all the other political parties
in the National Assembly and Senate. The Thirteenth Amendment to the
Constitution of Pakistan was passed so that the President could no longer
dismiss the Prime Minister; and the Fourteenth Amendment imposed strict party
discipline on members of parliament. This allowed party leaders to dismiss any
of their legislators if they failed to vote as they were told and made it nearly
impossible to dismiss a prime minister by a motion of no confidence. In effect,
the two amendments removed nearly all checks on the prime minister's power,
since there was virtually no way for him to be legally dismissed once elected.
On November 28, 1997, the Chief Justice Sajjad Ali Shah of the Supreme Court was
dismissed against revolt of other judges, orchestrated by Sharif's younger
brother, Shahbaz Sharif, and the Chief Minister of Punjab, Justice Rafiq Tarar.
On this issue he fell out with President Farooq Ahmed Khan Leghari who, now
without the powers to act against the Prime Minister, also resigned. Rafiq Tarar
was rewarded by his being appointed President of Pakistan.
Nawaz Sharif's downfall coincided with his secular actions such as abolishing
Friday holidays, distancing him from the conservative religious right wing
establishment without taking him closer to the secular section, which preferred
the PPP of Benazir Bhutto. Even now his frequent assurance to the west about
continued cooperation is diminishing his popularity at home amongst the right
wing conservatives who are looking for an alternative candidate to counter the
secularist alliance of Musharraf-Benazir duo in the coming elections.
On the development front, Nawaz Sharif completed the construction of South
Asia's longest motorway, the 367 km M2, linking Lahore and Islamabad. The
motorway, which was initiated during Nawaz Sharif's first term, was inaugurated
in November 1997 and was constructed at a cost of Rs 37.5 billion.
The peak of Sharif's popularity came when his government undertook nuclear tests
on 28 May 1998 in response to India's nuclear tests two weeks earlier. However,
after these tests, matters started going downhill. He suspended many civil
liberties, dismissed the Sindh provincial government and set up military courts
when the stability of the government was threatened.
U.S. Defense Secretary, William S. Cohen, with Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, at
the Pentagon, December 3, 1998.
U.S. Defense Secretary, William S. Cohen, with Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, at
the Pentagon, December 3, 1998.
Relations with the military
During his first term as prime minister, Sharif had fallen out with three
successive army chiefs: with General Mirza Aslam Beg over the 1991 Gulf War
issue; with General Asif Nawaz over the Sindh "Operation Clean-Up" issue; and
with General Wahid Kakar over the Sharif-Ishaq imbroglio.
It was under Wahid Kakar that Nawaz Sharif along with the then President of
Pakistan Ghulam Ishaq Khan were forced to resign in 1992-93.
At the end of General Waheed’s three-year term in January 1996, General Jehangir
Karamat was appointed army chief. His term was due to end on January 9, 1999. In
October 1998, however, Sharif fell out with General Karamat as well, over the
latter’s advocacy of the need for the creation of a National Security Council in
what Sharif believed was a conspiracy to return the military to a more active
role in Pakistani politics. Before that Sharif dismissed the Chief of Naval
Staff Admiral Mansur Ul Haq.
Jehangir Karamat was much later appreciated by Nawaz as a gentleman. Karamat
later served as Pakistan's ambassador to USA under Musharraf. He, like other
eminent personalities such as Tariq Aziz of the national security council and
Manzoor Watoo, a former chief minister of Punjab and Rawalpindi corps commander
who stormed Hafsa, has family members who are influenced by a Punjab religious
movement of the late 1800s. None of the above claim to belong to that movement
In October 1998, General Karamat resigned and Sharif appointed General Pervez
Musharraf as army chief. General Jehangir Karamat was seen by many as a straight
person who compromised himself and stood for the wishes of the Prime Minister.
Sharif would later regret appointing Pervez Musharraf to the Chief of Army
position, as Musharraf would lead a coup to topple Sharif's government.
Both Nisar Khan, a Nawaz league leader whose brother was defence secretary and
Shehbaz Sharif claim they arranged Musharraf's appointment. Nisar was later
Pakistan's nuclear tests
It was during this term that Pakistan carried out its successful nuclear tests
on May 28, 1998, in response to the Indian detonation of five nuclear devices
roughly two weeks before. The Nawaz government justified the tests on national
security grounds, as they demonstrated Pakistan's nuclear deterrent capabilities
against an armed Indian nuclear program. Under Nawaz Sharif's leadership,
Pakistan became the first Islamic country having Nuclear Power and became the
7th nation to become a Nuclear Power. The Nawaz Government proclaimed an
emergency on the same day as these nuclear tests were conducted. All fundamental
rights were suspended and all the foreign currency accounts in Pakistani banks
were frozen to minimize the effects of economic sanctions. This move was not
welcomed by all sections of depositors and further deteriorated the investors
and people's confidence. The foreign exchange reserves fell even further.
The Lahore Declaration
In order to normalize relations between India and Pakistan, Nawaz Sharif
undertook a major initiative in February 1999. This initiative culminated in a
visit by the Indian Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee to Lahore via bus,
across the Wagah border, in 1999. Nawaz Sharif met him at the Wagah border and a
joint communique, known as the Lahore Declaration, was signed between the two
leaders. The Lahore Declaration spelled out various steps to be taken by the two
countries towards normalizing relations.
The Kargil War in 1999 came to haunt the then Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. It
was an international embarrassment and he came under American pressure to
withdraw his troops after they intruded into Indian held territory backed by a
few Kashmiri militants. India reacted strongly and ordered its troops to oust
the intruders which resulted in heavy casualties for both sides, especially for
Pakistan. After India threatened to widen and escalate the scope of the conflict
and move into Pakistani territory, Nawaz Sharif under pressure from Bill Clinton
withdrew his troops unilaterally. Some believe that Sharif was responsible for
initiating the intrusions—though he claimed that Army chief Pervez Musharraf was
the brain behind the operation. (Information gleaned later showed that Musharraf
was instrumental in planning the Kargil and due to American and world pressure
was forced to the ultimate withdrawal.) In a recent interview, he admitted he
‘let down’ Vajpayee on Kargil conflict and also regretted for not having taken
an action against Musharraf.The retreat was not welcome in Pakistan and
Sharif would later reveal that Pakistan had suffered more than 4,000 casualties.
Growing fiscal deficits and debt-service payments, mainly due to American
sanctions, led to a financial crisis. The government narrowly avoided defaulting
on its international loans. With the country suffering from frequent power
blackouts, Sharif directed the army in early 1999 to take control of the Water
And Power Development Authority (WAPDA) of Pakistan, which had the adverse
effect that many active and former military personnel were deployed as heads of
civilian agencies. This trend continues to this day.
Alleged meetings with Osama bin Laden
Khalid Khawaja, a retired officer of the Pakistan Air Force who was in the ISI
in the late 80s, rejected a recent denial by the Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz)
that its leader had ever met Osama bin Laden. Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal
President Qazi Hussain Ahmed had said in a recent interview that Sharif had
repeatedly met Bin Laden, who had offered him money to topple the Pakistan
Peoples Party (PPP) government in 1990.
Proposition of an Islamic Society based on the Koran
On August 29, 1998 then Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif proposed a law to create an
Islamic order in Pakistan and establish a legal system based on the Koran and
the Sunnat. Sharif told Pakistanis that the proposed Shariat Bill was a
charter of duties and not power. On October 8, 1998 Pakistan Prime Minister
Nawaz Sharif presented the Shariat Bill in the National Assembly. The Cabinet
decided to present the bill on October 9, after removing some of its
The Pakistani government approved and passed the bill on October 10, 1998. After
the vote, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif said: "I congratulate the nation on the
passage of the bill which will help create a truly Islamic system". The
amendment, which was passed by the National Assembly by 151 votes to 16, was
then passed to the upper house of parliament for a final vote. Two-thirds
majority was needed for passage in the Senate, the upper chamber. On January 16,
1999 the Nawaz Sharif Government imposed Islamic law in the traditional tribal
areas of the north-west straddling the Pakistan-Afghanistan border, vowing to
impose it throughout the country. However, the amendment would fail in the
senate and before Nawaz Sharif would recover from that setback, his government
was summarily dismissed by a military coup.
With the public and press openly speculating about the possibility of a military
takeover, Nawaz became increasingly insecure. On October 12, 1999, he removed
Musharraf as army chief. Musharraf, who was out of the country, boarded a
commercial airliner to return to Pakistan. Sharif ordered the Karachi airport
sealed off to prevent the landing of the airliner, and ordered it to land at
Nawab Shah Airport, but Musharraf contacted top army generals who took over the
country and ousted Sharif's administration. Musharraf assumed control of the
government. The Supreme Court validated the coup on the grounds of necessity.
Thus ended Nawaz Sharif's second term, after dismissing a President, a Chief
Justice, an Army chief and a Naval Chief.
Nawaz was thrown in prison and tried by Pakistan's Anti-Terrorism Courts, which
handed down a life sentence for hijacking in 2000. The military government
agreed to commute his sentence from life in prison to exile in Saudi Arabia. His
family moved with him. His wife and senior members of his party formed an
anti-military coalition along with the Pakistan Peoples Party, previously the
major opposition to Sharif's Muslim League. Nawaz and the PPP have only offered
token resistance to President Musharraf's government. Efforts are mainly
restricted to criticism through the media.
Nawaz Sharif's government was deposed from office by General Pervez Musharraf,
who later declared himself the Chief Executive of Pakistan, effective Prime
Minister—as he did not immediately dismiss the nation's then President Muhammad
Rafiq Tarar. Sharif was convicted of hijacking and terrorism after he blocked
Pervez Musharraf from landing his plane in Karachi in lieu of dismissing him
from his COAS post. The Supreme Court of Pakistan under oath of PCO declared
Musharraf’s dismissal unconstitutional, as the COAS as a constitutional
appointee is afforded due process before dismissal.
The Supreme Court of Pakistan under the oath of PCO, upholding the position of
the Army, disqualified Nawaz Sharif from holding any public office for 21 years,
forbade his involvement in Pakistani politics (something which he has since
chosen to ignore), and fined him 20 million rupees. A plea bargain and
intervention of the Saudi royal family spared Sharif from serving a prison term;
instead he was exiled to the Saudi Kingdom.
While serving the life term in jail for plane-hijacking case, Sharif was also
charged and sentenced to 14 years imprisonment for corruption and tax evasion
charges. The ?Accountability Court of Pakistan has also disqualified him from
holding any public office for 21 ?years, and fined him 20 million rupees, about
37 thousand US dollars.?
2007 return to Pakistan
On September 7, 2007, Justice Shabbir Hussain Chatha ordered police to arrest
Shahbaz Sharif, brother of Nawaz Sharif and produce him before the court, after
the hearing in Lahore. The court ruled that "Shahbaz Sharif should be arrested
(at) whichever airport he lands at." Nawaz Sharif also faced detention on the
pair's planned return from exile to Pakistan on September 10, 2007, to challenge
President Pervez Musharraf's eight-year military rule.
On September 10, Nawaz Sharif arrived in Islamabad on a Pakistan International
Airlines (PIA) flight from London but was prevented from leaving the plane as
the authorities at the Islamabad Airport wanted to escort him to the arrival
lounge. The rest of the passengers on board were allowed to deplane, and
negotiations began with Sharif as he, along with his few supporters, did not
want an escort and wanted to deplane themselves.
Sharif finally agreed to be taken out of the plane, and was taken to the arrival
lounge and upon his arrival there he was approached by the National
Accountability Bureau chief who issued a warrant due to corruption charges made
against him. After that, there had been news that Nawaz Sharif had been boarded
onto another airliner to be exiled back to Saudi Arabia. "He has been sent
back," a senior security official told Agence France-Presse, as local television
showed a PIA airplane carried deported Sharif from Islamabad airport.
On September 10, Nawaz Sharif landed at Jeddah airport and was greeted by Saudi
intelligence chief Prince Miqren bin Abdul Aziz. Pakistan's Religious Affairs
Minister Ijaz-ul Haq stated that "He has not only embarrassed Pakistan but also
the leadership of Saudi Arabia by violating the agreement." The European Union
asked the Pakistani government to respect the court ruling, for Sharif should
have the chance to defend himself in a Pakistani court. In Washington, Sean
McCormack of the White House (joined by India) stated that the deportation was
an "internal matter" but said that elections should be "free and fair" (but
expressing mild disapproval of Pervez Musharraf's action). But the United States
organisation Human Rights Watch accused the Pakistan Government of violating
international law. Sharif's Pakistan Muslim League condemned the deportation by
filing a contempt suit in the Supreme Court of Pakistan. His brother Shahbaz
Sharif was due to travel with Sharif from London but changed his plans at the
On November 25, 2007, several weeks after the return of former Prime Minister
Benazir Bhutto, Sharif was able to return to Pakistan. He was not arrested and,
like Bhutto, was able to return to political activity.
Preparations for 2008 elections
Upon reaching Lahore, Sharif was greeted by a huge crowd of supporters. On
November 26, 2007, Nawaz Sharif filed for the January Parliamentary elections.
He handed in his papers in Lahore filing for two parliamentary seats.
On December 2, it was announced that Sharif would meet former Pakistani Prime
Minister Benazir Bhutto to discuss a possible boycott of the January 8
elections. Mr Sharif had stated that his party Pakistan Muslim League would not
take part in the elections unless the judges sacked under emergency rule were
On December 3, the Election Commission of Pakistan banned Sharif from taking
part in the January 8 elections. A rival candidate complained to the commission
citing Sharif's criminal charges. The commission upheld the complaint. Sharif
had until Friday to appeal against the ban. An election commissioner Raja
Qamaruzaman told Lahore newspapers that His (Nawaz's) nomination papers are
rejected because of his convictions. In the case of his opposition rival Benazir
Bhutto, President Pervez Musharraf signed into law the amnesty early in 2007
that cleared Ms Bhutto of all conviction charges. However this amnesty did not
clear Mr Sharif, having been sentenced to ten years for aeroplane hijacking and
terrorism when he attempted to prevent the PIA flight carrying Musharraf and
Soomro and a plane full of ordinary passengers in 1999 from landing at Karachi.
On December 6, Mr Sharif attempted to meet former chief justice Iftikhar
Chaudhry but was stopped by police. Mr Chaudhry was forced to leave office after
refusing to swear allegiance to President Musharraf and also the authorities are
preventing him from leaving his household. Sharif told the crowd that he had
come to show support for the judges and will not rest until they were restored.
Coming off the heels of meeting with former Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir
Bhutto both opposition parties were in the process of negotiating what they
called a charter of demands which they wanedt fulfilled if they were to take
part in the January 8 elections. Mr Sharif wanted the re-instatement of the
judges before the election takes place to be on the opposition's joint demands.
However Benazir Bhutto claimed that this is an issue that parliament could
address once the elections have been fought.
On December 7, it was confirmed by Nawaz Sharif that he would not appeal against
the ban that was placed on him on December 3, and would not participate as a
candidate in the January 8 elections. If Sharif appealed against the ban the
matter would have been taken to the Pakistan High Court. Sharif said that he
does not recognize this as legitimate because the judges were forced under the
rule of President Musharraf. Sharif wrote to the Election Commission saying that
he was being prevented from standing for political reasons.
Nawaz Sharif announced on December 10 that he would indeed participate in the
January 8 elections. The PML-N made this decision after he failed to make a
decision with opposition rival Benazir Bhutto and her Pakistan Peoples Party
(PPP); the two sides complained that elections would not be free and fair under
emergency rule placed by President Musharraf on November 3, 2007. Mr Musharraf
announced that emergency would end on December 15, a day earlier than planned.
Mr Sharif's party would participate in the elections after 33 opposition parties
including Ms Bhutto's PPP failed to reach a joint agreement. Mr Sharif announced
his party's manifesto being a single demand for the restoration of the judges
sacked in November by President Musharraf. Ms Bhutto however said that this is
an issue that the new parliament can decide on.
On February 16, 2008 the initial last day of campaigning for Pakistan's
political parties, Nawaz Sharif's PML-N party campaigned closely with
assassinated former Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto's Pakistan People's
Party and her widower Asif Ali Zardari.
Assassination of Benazir Bhutto
On December 27, in a CNN interview just hours after the assassination of former
Pakistan Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, Sharif said:
“ This is not a sad day. This is the darkest and gloomiest day in the history of
our country. ”
Amidst the shock of the death of former Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto
Sharif had announced that he would boycott the January 8, Pakistani general
elections. Sharif called for President Pervez Musharraf to resign due to the
lack of security leading up to Benazir Bhutto's death. Sharif rushed to the
hospital where Bhutto was taken to and comforted her supporters and sat next to
her body. Sharif called Bhutto his sister and vowed to avenge her death.
A few hours before the murder of Benazir Bhutto, four of Sharif's party workers
had been shot dead at Karal Chowk in an attack on a procession to meet him.
Gunmen were unidentified. Nawaz Sharif accused Musharraf supporters PML(Q) for
the killings which was later identified to be untrue.
2008 elections and dominance in Punjab Assembly
However after the death of Bhutto, Sharif met with Zardari and advised him to
boycott elections. Asif Zardari refused the offer and offered Nawaz to take part
in the elections arguing that the opposition parties would definitely win after
this chain of unfortunate events in the country and mishandling of issues by the
government. Nawaz accepted the offer and announced it publicily in a press
conference. He gave the reason that in order to bring the President's government
down the whole opposition must assemble and move in one direction.
On Monday, February 18 the PML(N) dominated the Punjab assembly and won 65 seats
out of 272 from the National Assembly finishing second, directly behind the PPP-P(Bhutto/Zardari's
party) at 88. However, 18 independents have also filed to now join Sharif's
party moving his seat number up from 65 to 83. The results became clear on
February 19. His massive victory in Punjab was met by a festive mood. Later that
day in a press conference he said that he would welcome the political leaders
back to the parent party who had left his party and joined the PML(Q). Former
Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and Asif Ali Zardari, the husband of slain
former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto told February 21, 2008 their parties will
work together in the national parliament after scoring big wins in the Pakistani
general election, 2008. Pakistan leaders agree on coalition.