Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry on Monday made the revelation that Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri, in his meeting with Prime Minister Imran Khan, had regretted securing the release of former prime minister Nawaz Sharif, who had been jailed on hijacking and terrorism charges after the military coup of 1999.
Prime Minister Khan had met Hariri — who according to Chaudhry “helped Nawaz Sharif get an NRO (National Reconciliation Ordinance) from [former president] Pervez Musharraf” — on the sidelines of the World Government Summit in Dubai on Sunday.
Taking to Twitter, Chaudhry claimed that Khan during his conversation with Hariri told the Lebanese prime minister that word is going around in Pakistan about “another NRO[-like deal] for Nawaz Sharif”.
Sharif’s second term as prime minister had ended as a result of the then army chief Pervez Musharraf’s coup in October 1999 and he was tried, convicted and sentenced to life in prison in a hijacking case.
However, under an agreement with the Saudi royal family, for which Hariri stood as one of the guarantors, Sharif was released from jail in 2000, after which the former prime minister along with his family was sent to live in exile in Saudi Arabia as a guest of the royal family.
In response to Prime Minister Khan’s disclosure, according to Chaudhry, Hariri “raised both his hands to say it was a big mistake to have the Sharif family pardoned”.
The Lebanese premier said this was because the Sharifs “did not fulfil even one commitment and I [Hariri] had to face severe embarrassment”, the information minister claimed.
The minister’s claims could not be independently verified by Dawn.com.
When Sharif had decided to return to Pakistan from exile in 2007, Hariri and then Saudi chief of intelligence Prince Muqrin bin Abdul Aziz at a press conference in Rawalpindi had urged Sharif not to return to Pakistan and abide by his agreement with King Abdullah which they said bound him to stay out of Pakistan for 10 years.
But Sharif had claimed that he was verbally assured by the intermediaries of the agreement, especially Hariri, that the exile condition would apply for only five years, and proceeded to return to Pakistan.