Here is our man of nerves, Hamza Shahbaz Sharif, sitting before the team of HORIZON at his Assembly chamber. He is out from the Kot Lakhpat Jail-Lahore on production
order to attend the Punjab Assembly session and perform his duties as Leader of the Opposition. On asking he reveals a compassionate blend of political discussion and
personal chit chat. Following are the excerpts from the interview of this young political leader of Punjab who is bravely facing third term of political persecution and victimization:
1. President of PML-N party, Ex Chief Minister of the Punjab province Mian Mohammad Shahbaz Sharif is an iconic political leader. How do you find him as your Father?
I am a proud son whose father is a visionary leader for his people. He has done wonders by his immaculate speed that even young people would envy. I have seen him closely in transforming the province of Punjab into an iconic development model. Even opponents agree to his performance and willpower despite being a cancer patient for a long time.
He is a caring, disciplined, upright and compassionate father. He taught me the best of things a father could possibly do but I always carry along two utmost lessons that are close to my heart: “service to humanity” and “coffins have no pockets”. What better a father could offer?
2. Could you please share with us your political journey? You have a sweet legacy. Did it all come so easily to you?
Interestingly I was 17 years old student of the then Government College (GC), Lahore when I was politically victimized by FIA held me in 14 days’ custody. But it was just the beginning. After two weeks when the court had declared me a minor, they asked me to sign a paper asking for forgiveness. It was shocking for me to seek written forgiveness. For what? My refusal led me to further imprisonment of 6 months to Adiala Jail-Rawalpindi. Ultimately the Tribunal Court quashed my custody and turned it down into acquittal.
Few years later in 1998, military coup of a Dictator Gen. Musharaf’s era of 10 years marked another spree of political bigotry against me. My entire family was in exile. I was the only person who lived in the city of Lahore. I was not allowed to travel outside Lahore. My name was put on ECL. During those 10 unforgettable years I suffered isolation as a son, a brother,a cousin, a nephew, so on and forth. My mother wanted to see me like every mother does. My father went through a life and death cancer surgery in USA, but I wasn’t permitted to visit him.
My grandfather passed away whom I had to bury all alone here in Lahore.My sisters’ got married. I had to send them off on my own, while the family was kept away. I was alone facing all this.NAB kept calling me for interrogation for 6 consecutive years against false charges of corruption against my family. There was not even a single penny’s embezzlement found in the end.You can see my political upbringing has been a tough call.
TH: Who is your favorite writer?
HS: I have been an avid reader of political biographies. I really liked Nelson Mandella’s Long Walk to Freedom.
TH: What do you most miss in jail?
HS: I miss my daughter Samawiyah the most.
TH: Do you think supremacy of law has been established after 18th Amendment?
TH: You were brought into politics in some of the darkest and hardest political times for the country, what was that like?HS: When I was 17, orders for my physical remand were passed. My uncle Abbas Sharif was with us at that time. They took me to jail. (TH: You were seventeen at that time?) Yes, I was put under arrest in the FIA headquarters for fourteen days. Afterwards, they took me in front of a judge. Once the proceedings were over they asked me to write that I am a minor and beg for forgiveness on a simple piece of paper. I found myself unable to do it as it would be bending in the face of injustice. I called Mian Nawaz Sharif and informed him that, “They have agreed to set me free if I beg for forgiveness, but I refused.” Following this, I spent 6 months in a jail. In my hearing at the Tribunal Court, I was told that I was a minor and underage, thus I could not be nominated in a case. For ten years after this, when my entire family was in exile, I was the only person in Pakistan. My name was in the ECL and I was called by NAB every other day. Everything was under strict scrunity in order to somehow incriminate me. Though I was under constant investigation, they could 3. Once again you are under arrest. On what charges? What you have to say about it?
Even today NAB has been holding me for the last 14 months. The alleged crimes are still unknown! In one case I have got bail. It is an irony of the situation that in another case there has been no reference filed against me as yet and I have to come from the Jail to attend assembly sessions not from my house. What worst mockery of accountability could be made? It is no secret now that NAB is globally recognized as an institution of “political engineering”. All I have to say is let’s not take our country to the poverty, hunger, inflation, unemployment and economic meltdown to the point of no return as is the case in last two years. Political victimization is not a solution to this country. Alleged detention of opposition leaders Nawaz Sharif, Shahbaz Sharif, Maryam Nawaz, Shahid Khakaan, Saad Rafiq, Salman Rafiq, Rana Sanaullah, Ahsan Iqbal, Hanif Abbasi and many more has exposed fascist mindset of the government. They cannot curb commitment and resolve of the democratic political leaders for our country and its people. Now people demand “Purana Pakistan” where GDP was 5.8%, sugar price was 52 rupees/kg, wheat 32 rupees/kg, mega development project of CPEC, energy,infrastructure, road networks and much more were a game changing reality to every life.
4. Who do you miss most in Jail?
It is undoubtedly my 18 months’ daughter Samawiyah.
5. Do you read in jail? Your favorite book or author?
I mostly read political biographies and autobiographies. One of my favorites is “Mandella’s Long
Walk to Freedom”
6. Your favorite game?
Badminton. I like outdoor games where one can exhaust physically while playing.
7. Do you like listening to the music?
Yes, I am a huge fan of Rafi Sahib, Kishor Kumar, Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan and Madam Noor Jahan.
8. If not a politician what would have you been?
Perhaps an architect.
9. Do you think supremacy of law has been established after 18th amendment to the Constitution?
Pakistan has still a long way to attain rule of law and become viable federation. The 18th amendment is a step in right direction. I am a also strong proponent of functioning Local Government system.
10. What is that one factor which keeps you going under such immense pressure?
Prayers of my parents, particularly my mother, are a blessing on me.
11. Your message for the party workers?
I thank you all for unwavering support during these times of crisis and for braving up hostilities of
this antagonistic regime. Inshallah, we will preserve through these times with honor, grace and courage.
We have to serve people of Pakistan together again.