Former prime minister Nawaz Sharif on Saturday vowed not to indulge in politics of revenge and said he only wants to see a developed and prosperous Pakistan, as he addressed a massive rally hours after his return to the country following a four-year self-imposed exile in the UK.
Sharif, 73, returned home on a special flight from Dubai, ending a four-year self-imposed exile in the UK, to head his party and try to secure a record fourth term in the general elections expected to be held in January.
Wearing a light blue kurta pyjama, a maroon muffler and a black coat, the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) supremo flew in from Dubai to Islamabad on the 'Umeed-e-Pakistan' chartered plane at around 1:30 pm local time.
After landing in Islamabad, he completed formalities and signed some legal documents to be submitted to the Islamabad High Court as part of the bail process approved by the court on October 19. Later he headed to Lahore where he addressed a massive rally of party leaders and his supporters.
“I am meeting you today after several years, but my relationship of love with you is the same. There is no difference in this relationship,” he told the cheering crowd at Minar-e-Pakistan, the site where the All-India Muslim League passed the Lahore Resolution on March 23, 1940 - the first official call for a separate and independent homeland for the Muslims of British India.
“The love I am seeing in your eyes, I am proud of it.”
Sharif said that he had forgotten the past after seeing the public's love.
He added that his wounds would take time to heal but said: “I have no wish for revenge, Nawaz Sharif only wishes for the well-being of the people.”
His comments assume significance as his main rival and former prime minister Imran Khan is in jail and is facing more than 150 cases against him.
Khan's government had launched a number of corruption cases against the Sharif family. Nawaz Sharif spent some time in jail before he was allowed to go to London on medical grounds.
The PML-N supremo lamented how the country was in a dire state today but at the same time vowed to redirect Pakistan to the path of growth.
He further stated that if Pakistan was run on his 1990 economic model, “not a single person would have been unemployed, there would be nothing like poverty […] but today, the conditions are so bad that one has to think if they can feed their children or pay electricity bills”.
Sharif clarified that these tough economic conditions weren't created during his brother Shehbaz Sharif-led government but traced back to a long time.
“Is this why you ousted me?" the three-time former prime minister said while criticising his disqualification in 2017.
"We were making Pakistan Asian Tiger, we want to take Pakistan to G20,” he said.
The PML-N, he continued, was not among those who disrespected others. “And I believe that the difficulties the people of Pakistan are facing, we need to focus on their reasons and, according to the spirit of the Constitution, make a plan for the future together.”
He stressed that state institutions, politics and the pillar of the state needed to work together.
“Everyone needs to come together to strengthen the Constitution and remove the disease that affects the country again and again.
“We need to begin a new journey,” Sharif pointed out. “We need to decide on how we will get our lost position back, how we will have to run on double speed, how we will have to break the begging bowl forever, how we will have to stand on our feet […] how we will have to make a strong foreign policy and create good relations with the world.
He said on the Kashmir issue, they will talk to the world in an honourable way.