Former Prime Minister, Leader-for-Life and Quaid of his eponymous faction of the Pakistan Muslim League is presiding over the meeting of his inner circle to discuss the brouhaha over his interview to Dawn newspaper, where he had expressed concern over Pakistan’s relative isolation in world community and apparent non-acceptance of its narrative on terrorism by the world powers.
Present are his younger brother Shahbaz Sharif, chief minister of Punjab, and president of Pakistan Muslim League-N, Punjab law minister Rana Sanaullah, Maryam Aurangzeb, federal information minister, and his wife’s nephew, Abid Sher Ali, the federal minister of state for power.
Dawn’s Cyril Almeida quoted his saying, “Militant organizations are active. Call them non-state actors, should we allow them to cross the border and kill 150 people in Mumbai? Explain it to me. Why can’t we complete the trial?”
His party refuted the allegation that their Quaid had uttered anything against the national interest. Shahbaz Sharif responded that the report had “incorrectly attributed certain remarks” to his older brother. A statement issued by his party claimed the former premier’s remarks had been “grossly misinterpreted” by the Indian media. The party also said that a section of Pakistani electronic and social media has intentionally or unintentionally not only validated but also has lent credence to the malicious propaganda of Indian media without going through the full facts of the statement.
Nawaz Sharif, with his glass of lassi brimming to the top, is in full command, “Just tell me why would I say any such a thing in my right senses? My position is best defined by President George W. Bush’s statement who said, ‘They misunderestimated me.’ In fact, our party spokesman should have simply given this quote to clarify any matter related to my interview.
“I have been three times prime minister, I don’t need any certificate from anybody on their commitment and capacity to preserve, protect and promote Pakistan’s national security. Never forget that it is Mian Mohammad Nawaz Sharif who took the most important and most difficult decision on national security of doing the nuclear test.
“I am told that in America there is law where defendants who commit crimes under the influence of drugs or alcohol sometimes argue that their mental functioning was so impaired that they cannot be held accountable for their actions. I am told in America, people can kill dozens of people and go free by saying that they did this or that was done under the influence.
“Exactly, this is the case. This Cyril Almeida, when he was talking to me, clearly saw three empty tall glasses of lassi on my desk. Ask him where did the content of those three glasses go?
“I am not a lawyer, but this Cyril being a journalist, should have known that I was under the influence. Does the American law define what substance is involved in being under influence? Rana Sanaullah is provincial law minister and I ask him this question. I will also ask this question from our federal law minister Chaudhry Mahmood Bashir Virk.
“Didn’t I tell him that my slogan ‘mujhe kyun nikala?’ – why I was kicked out — is a very popular slogan in the whole of Pakistan? All of you know that there is a lot of appreciation, a lot of recognition for it. Yes, I was under the influence when I did not put full information about my work permit in the Gulf. You know our elections are held in warm weather, and when I was filling my nomination form for the 2013 elections, I was drinking glass upon glass of lassi – even I was asking the mother of Hasan and Husain to make more lassi for me.
“Now the Army is making a big thing out of it. But then I notice that they are holding a National Security Committee (NSC) meeting to discuss this misleading media statement regarding Mumbai incident. Indeed, I will quote President Bush again that I was misunderestimated. I can do so many things, or for that matter, anyone can do things under the influence.
“Cyril, being from minority, must be taking alcoholic drinks. He should be smart enough to know what it means to be under the influence. No, I have never taken any alcoholic drink, but Cyril saw the three empty tall glasses on my table, he should have known that I was under the influence, so why he made everything I was saying as part of the interview? Tell me? It is same thing that I keep repeating ‘mujhe kyun nikala?’
“I can only tell Cyril that he may do whatever he likes but I have solid defense for being under the influence. It is common for me to be innocently under the influence whether it is lassi, or nihari, or biryani.
“Next time anyone is coming to interview me, I am going get a written undertaking that what I may being telling them would be kept private because I may innocently under the influence.”