Text of Nawaz Sharif’s interview with Geo News - What is Nawaz Up to?
The News, November 19, 2009
RAWALPINDI: Following is the transcript of exclusive interview of Nawaz Sharif with Geo News:
Hamid Mir (HM): In the name of Allah, the most Beneficent, the most Merciful. Hamid Mir and Sohail Warraich are with you today. We are going to talk to a personality round whom the politics of Pakistan revolves nowadays. He is not a part of the government but people have started asserting that the government of Asif Zardari is surviving only because of him. I think you must have got the hint. I am talking about Mian Nawaz Sharif. Many questions are being raised and much is being written about him nowadays. We intend to talk precisely about the questions being discussed in political and cultural quarters. We will endeavour to ask him whether he has become lenient towards the incumbent government because of Saudi Arabia or because of United States; whether instead of an individual he is trying to save the system. We will try to find the reality as well as the agenda of his politics.
Well Mr Nawaz Sharif we are thankful to you for this meeting. My first question is about your person and not about your politics. Your Raiwind farmhouse where we are sitting at the moment is indeed very beautiful. May Allah bless you with more means to build more such farmhouses. However many of your critics say that Nawaz Sharif has so much wealth, he possesses such a huge farmhouse, he has big properties abroad too, but it is surprising that the income tax he pays is only Rs5,000. How would you comment?
NS (Nawaz Sharif): Thank you Mir Sahib. It seems that you have also been carried away by the wave (of criticism). This farmhouse was built prior to our exile and it remained in possession of Mr Musharraf for a long time. Moreover our house in Model Town was taken over by him and handed it over to the government. Similar treatment was meted out to our factories. There may be some families that might have plundered the country and the nation, but I can say with certitude that our family was not involved in politics. We were engaged in setting up industry. Ours is the family that has been looted by different governments. My father set up first factory in 1937 which by the grace of Allah continued to grow and came to be a big industry. It was nationalized by Mr Zulfikar Ali Bhutto when he came into power and not even a single penny was paid by way of compensation. The entire family was penniless. Those were the days when the war of 1971 in East Pakistan had just ended. You, and perhaps even most of the viewers will be unaware of the fact that one of our factories was located in (former) East Pakistan. That too was gone and we did not get even a single penny of that factory. When our industry in Pakistan was nationalized we were absolutely penniless. Then we come to Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto era. Since we were in opposite political camps obviously she left no stone unturned to harm us. We suffered a loss of Rs700 million in the MV Jonathan episode. Then we come to the martial law of Mr Musharraf. He sealed all that remained of our factories. He simply closed down everything, sent us behind the bars and exiled us. There is no need to go into details, as you know everything. A bogus case of plane hijacking was instituted against me. Musharraf got all my movable and immovable properties confiscated by way of fine. This beats my imagination Mir Sahib and I fail to see any logic behind the act of filing bogus cases against an elected prime minister and confiscate all his property in Pakistan. You see and tell how much we have paid in taxes? We have paid billions of rupees as income tax, excise duty and sales tax.
HM: So you did not pay (only) five thousand rupees.
NS: That is what I am trying to establish. You give ear to whatever they (critics) say whereas the reality is different. TV says one thing and the newspapers another. Please do not think of me as an individual; I am linked with all things. The assets I am talking about, by the grace of Almighty Allah, are family assets. In 1997, after mulling over the subject, I had decided that whosoever wants to join politics must resign from their business interests. We resigned, and only an appropriate portion was left as our share. This was done because personally I was convinced that politics and business must be separated. Now let us come to the sugar mill. It is jointly owned by me with Shahbaz Sharif. When we were in exile we paid to the government a sum of Rs6 billion as income tax, excise duty, and sales tax. If we had not paid the taxes, I or Shahbaz Sahib would have pocketed the same or someone else would have got it. It would not have gone in the government coffers. Thus our tax is what has been paid by our family or company, and Rs6 billion is a pretty huge amount, that is six hundred crore rupees. We paid taxes even when we were in Jeddah in exile. So these are the facts. Now I ask a question. Who will compensate us? No one has talked about our factory worth billions that was nationalized. Nobody ever said, ‘alright we grabbed your factory worth billions of rupees; you accept only one tenth of its worth. I talked about the loss of 60-70 crore we suffered in the MV Jonathan episode, and no one has ever talked about this loss. We could have asked for compensation for this loss of Rs70 crore from my own government when I was prime minister. This would have provided grist to the rumours mill and there would have been comments that we have taken such a huge amount out of the national exchequer. Then someone has to be responsible for grabbing our hard earned money too.
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