Mian Muhammad Nawaz Sharif, the main political rival of Benazir Bhutto and Pervez Musharraf, was prime minister three times, serving three non-consecutive terms, from 1990 to 1993, from 1997 to 1999 and from 2013 to 2017. All three times he was elected with hopes and left in disgrace. Although he is Pakistan's longest-serving prime minister (over nines years), he never completed a term. In 2017, Sharif was removed from office by the Supreme Court of Pakistan regarding revelations from the Panama Papers case. In 2018, the Pakistani Supreme Court disqualified Sharif from holding public office, and he was sentenced to ten years in prison. Mr Sharif is perhaps best known outside Pakistan for ordering the country's first nuclear tests in 1998.

Nawaz Sharif has been one of Pakistan’s leading politicians for most of the last 30 years. According to the BBC: “Before winning his third term, Mr Sharif served as prime minister from 1990 to 1993 and from 1997 until the 1999 bloodless coup. Like many of his contemporaries he has survived sustained corruption allegations against him. President of the Pakistan Muslim League-N (PML-N) and owner of Ittefaq Group, a leading steel mill conglomerate, he is among the country's wealthiest industrialists. Observers recall a not particularly impressive political figure, who nonetheless proved himself an adept administrator. He became prime minister in 1990, but was dismissed in 1993, clearing the way for the then opposition leader, Benazir Bhutto, to form a government. [Source: BBC, July 28, 2017]

“After becoming prime minister again in 1997 with a comfortable majority, Mr Sharif appeared to dominate the political landscape and exerted a powerful hold over all the country's major institutions — apart from the army. Frustrated by opposition in the parliament, he tried to pass a constitutional amendment that would have enabled him to enforce Sharia law. He also confronted other power centres — a mob of his supporters ransacked the Supreme Court and he tried to rein in Pakistan's powerful military.

“Ousted in a 1999 military coup, Nawaz Sharif became Pakistan's prime minister for a record third term after staging a triumphant comeback in parliamentary elections in 2013. It was also a historic moment for Pakistan as it was the first transition from one democratically elected government to another since independence in 1947. But his last period in office was marred by upheavals — starting with a six-month opposition blockade of the capital Islamabad, and ending with court proceedings over corruption allegations which eventually led to the Supreme Court disqualifying him in July 2017. His resignation followed shortly afterwards.”

Sharif’s Early Life and Political Career

Sharif was born on December 25, 1949 in Lahore. He comes from a wealthy, prominent, industrialist family that was displaced from Kashmir. His father is Muhammad Sharif; his mother, Shamim Akhtar He has two sons and two daughters and enjoys hunting and playing cricket. He attended Government College Lahore and got a law degrees at Punjab University Law College.

Neither a feudal lord nor a general, Sharif made a name for himself as an industrialist, transforming the troubled family-owned Ittefaq Steel into one of Pakistan's fourth largest companies and one of the counties most profitable enterprises. In the process he became a multi-millionaire. He opened Ittefaq Industries, a family business involved in the steel, sugar and textile industries, in 1977.

Sharif was a rising politician in the 1980s. He won his first political seat in 1988. Sharif's political career helped his business interest. The value of his assets increased 4,000 percent in 10 years. In 1988, when he was first elected, his assets were worth US$5.4 million. In 1998 they were US$217 million. In 1994-95 he paid only US$58.26 in taxes.

Nawaz Sharif belongs to a postindependence generation of politicians. Scion of a leading industrial family, he is a practicing Muslim, an ardent capitalist, and a political moderate. He rose to prominence representing an urban constituency seeking its own political identity. His family, along with other major industrial families, had suffered from the nationalization of large industrial enterprises during Bhutto's regime (1971-77). Nawaz Sharif had worked to build a political constituency that would favor private industrial and commercial entrepreneurship. He served in Punjab, first as finance minister and then as chief minister, before coming to national office. As finance minister, he presented development-oriented budgets. As chief minister, he stressed welfare and development activities and the maintenance of law and order. [Source: Peter Blood, Library of Congress, 1994]

Shaif was protégé of military leader Gen Zia ul-Haq who ruled Pakistan from 1977 to 1988. He first came to national prominence during the early days of Gen Zia's martial law. He was appointed Pakistan's finance minister in 1981 and became chief minister of Punjab province in 1985 and then served as chief minister from 1985 to 1990.

Bhutto and Sharif Governments

In November 1988 Benazir Bhutto (1953-2007), daughter of former Pakistan leader Zulfika Bhutto (1928–1979) and leader of the People’s Party of Pakistan (PPP) party, became prime minister. Bhutto’s government was plagued by ethnic conflict, severe economic problems, and a lack of legislative support. She was removed from office two years later by president Ghulam Ishaq amid growing power struggles within the government. In October 1990,Mian Nawaz Sharif, leader of the Islamic Democratic Alliance (IDA), became prime minister and faced the same problems that troubled Bhutto.In 1993 Bhutto’s PPP won the National Assembly, and she once again became prime minister. However, in 1996 President Farooq Leghari dismissed Bhutto on charges of corruption, and in 1997 Nawaz Sharif replaced her.

In August 1988, a plane carrying President Zia Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq crashed under mysterious circumstances, killing Zia and 29 others. In accordance with the Constitution, Chairman of the Senate Ghu-lam Ishaq Khan became Acting President and announced that elections scheduled for November 1988 would go ahead as planned. The PPP won 94 seats out of 207 and the Islamic Democratic Alliance (IJI) won 54.The PPP, under Benazir Bhutto's leadership, succeeded in forming a coalition government with several smaller parties, including the Mutta-hida Qaumi Movement (MQM). [Source:Countries of the World and Their Leaders Yearbook 2009, Gale]

According to “Countries of the World and Their Leaders”: “Differing interpretations of constitutional authority, debates over the powers of the central government relative to those of the provinces, and the antagonistic relationship between the Bhutto administration and opposition governments in Punjab and Balochistan seriously impeded social and economic reform programs. Ethnic conflict, primarily in Sindh province, exacerbated these problems. A fragmentation in the governing coalition and the military's reluctance to support an apparently ineffectual and corrupt government were accompanied by a significant deterioration in law and order.

In August 1990, President Khan, citing his powers under the eighth amendment to the Constitution, dismissed the Bhutto government and dissolved the national and provincial assemblies. In elections held in October 1990, the IJI won a two-thirds majority in the National Assembly and took control of all four provincial parliaments. Sharif, as leader of the Pakistan Muslim League (PML, the most prominent party in the IJI), was elected prime minister by the National Assembly. With such a strong mandate Sharif was the most powerful Pakistani prime minister since the mid-1970s. Under his rule, the IJI achieved several important political victories and economic reform, including privatization, deregulation, and encouragement of private sector boosted the economy. The passage of sharia bill in May 1991, providing for widespread Islamization, had strong support among Pakistanis.

In the end though, Nawaz Sharif was not able to bridge the difference among IJI's constituent parties. The largest religious party, Jamaat-i-Islami (JI), abandoned the alliance because of its antagonism to what it regarded as PML hegemony. The government was weakened further by the military's suppression of the MQM, which had entered into coalition with the IJI to contain PPP influence, and allegations of corruption directed at Nawaz Sharif. In 1993, Nawaz Sharif was forced to resign. In 1993 Bhutto’s PPP won the National Assembly, and she once again became prime minister.

Sharif During Benazir Bhutto’s First Term 1988-90

During Benazir Bhutto’s first term, from 1988 to 1990, she had to contend with growing political opposition. As a political power broker, she was in the late 1980s no match for her main rival, then chief minister of Punjab, Nawaz Sharif. In the 1988 elections that brought Benazir to power, her party had won the largest number of seats in the National Assembly but controlled only one of the four provinces. Punjab, the most populous province, with over half of Pakistan's population, came under the control of the opposition IJI and of its leader, Nawaz Sharif, who was the only major political figure from the Zia era to survive the reemergence of the PPP. To maintain her power and implement her programs, Benazir would have needed to maneuver successfully between a powerful president and the military elite and to reach a political accommodation with Nawaz Sharif. Instead, she pursued a course of confrontation, including unsuccessful efforts to overthrow him in the provincial assembly.

On August 6, 1990, Bhutto’s arch rival and former coalition partner, President Ghulam Ishaq Khan, dismissed the Benazir government, dissolved the National Assembly as well as the Sindh and North-West Frontier provincial assemblies, and appointed a caretaker government headed by Ghulam Mustafa Jatoi, the leader of the Combined Opposition Parties in the National Assembly. Bhutto's government was charged with corruption and mismanagement. She was replaced by another rival Nawaz Sharif. Ghulam Ishaq had used his powers as president to remove Bhutto from leadership then declared a state of emergency, dissolving the National Assembly. Ghulam Mustafa Jatoi was the leader of the opposition. A Punjab high court upheld the constitutionality of his actions. In election held on October 24, 1990, the Islamic Jamhoori Ittehad (IJI), a multiparty coalition dominated by a partnership of the PML and the JI, won the most seats . Mian Muhammad Nawaz Sharif, PML leader and former chief minister of Punjab, became prime minister on November 6 and the state of emergency was ended.

Ghulam Mustafa Jatoi

Ironically, Benazir's successor, the caretaker prime minister, was one of Pakistan's largest landowners, also from Benazir's Sindh Province. Jatoi had joined the PPP when Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto had founded it in the late 1960s, was in Bhutto's first cabinet, and was later chief minister of Sindh until Zia overthrew Bhutto in 1977. Jatoi had remained supportive of the PPP during the martial law period and had spearheaded the campaign organized by the MRD against Zia's government. Following Benazir's return to Pakistan in 1986, however, Jatoi was removed as chairman of the Sindh PPP and subsequently formed his own political organization, the National People's Party. Known as a moderate, Jatoi said that his party's objective was to make Pakistan a modern, democratic, and progressive Islamic welfare state. [Source: Peter Blood, Library of Congress, 1994 *]

Jatoi's caretaker government instituted accountability proceedings against persons charged with corruption and, under the authority of laws enacted by both the Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto and the Zia regimes, set up special courts to handle accountability cases. The accountability process had traditionally been used to disqualify from public office those found guilty of corruption and wrongdoing. It had also been used as a weapon by politicians in power against their opponents. The period for accountability defined by the Jatoi government was limited to the twenty months of Benazir's regime. The PPP demand that Nawaz Sharif's Punjab government during that same time be subjected to similar scrutiny was rejected. Nevertheless, the Jatoi government defended the proceedings as fair and neutral. Although several charges were brought against Benazir, and her appearance before the accountability tribunals was required, she remained free and was able to lead her party in the October 1990 elections.

The Central Election Commission, consisting of three members of the senior judiciary, supervised preparation of the electoral rolls and the conduct of the 1990 elections as well as processing complaints and issuing reports. Although Pakistan has a large number of political parties, the two main contenders in the elections were both broad-based coalitions. One contender was the Pakistan Democratic Alliance, established during the campaign by Benazir's dominant PPP, together with the Tehrik-i-Istiqlal, headed by Asghar Khan, and two smaller parties. Asghar Khan had been Pakistan's first commander in chief of the air force and later became chairman of Pakistan International Airlines, before entering the political arena in 1969 and founding his own party. In the 1970s, Asghar Khan was one of Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto's harshest critics. Having helped to oust Bhutto, however, he did not benefit from the Zia military government, and in 1989 he resigned as Tehrik-i-Istiqlal's chairman. Political observers were surprised when the party joined the Pakistan Democratic Alliance.

The other major contender in opposition to the Pakistan Democratic Alliance was the IJI, the coalition that had also competed with the PPP in the 1988 elections. The Pakistan Muslim League was a major component of the IJI, as was the Jamaat-i- Islami. The three chief competitors for leadership in the IJI and specifically in the Pakistan Muslim League were Nawaz Sharif, former Prime Minister Mohammad Khan Junejo, and Ejaz ul-Haq, son of the late President Zia ul-Haq. These three men represented key groups in Pakistan's political culture. Junejo belonged to a major Sindhi landowning family and represented the feudal classes. Ejaz appealed particularly to Zia's Islamic fundamentalist supporters. His candidacy was weakened, however, by his relative lack of political experience. Nawaz Sharif, the ultimate victor, represented the country's growing business classes. The caretaker prime minister also aspired to remain in power, but his party was not a member of the IJI, and so he lacked sufficient political strength.

Other important parties included Altaf Hussain's MQM, representing the refugee community in urban Sindh, and Khan Abdul Wali Khan's Awami National Party, based in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (formerly North-West Frontier Province) and northern Balochistan. Although in 1990 the PDA and the IJI were the major election contenders in Pakistan's three largest provinces (Punjab, Sindh, and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (formerly North-West Frontier Province)), they had only a limited presence in the fourth province, Balochistan, where regional and religious parties, such as the Jamiat-ul-Ulama-i-Islam and the Jamhoori Watan Party, were of equal or even greater importance.

The central campaign issue in 1990 for IJI was the Benazir government's alleged corruption and wrongdoing in office. The principal issue for the PDA was the alleged unconstitutionality of her dismissal from office and the subsequent treatment of her, and her family and associates, by the caretaker government. The campaign was heated, including incidents of violence, harassment, and political kidnappings. Media coverage played an active role. During this campaign, the government no longer held a monopoly on television news because a second network, People's Television Network (PTN), had been started, to compete with Pakistan Television Corporation (PTV). The new network introduced Cable News Network (CNN) in Pakistan. The PPP filed a complaint against PTV, charging biased network election coverage by it, but the complaint was rejected by the Lahore High Court. Print media coverage offered more variety. Although government-controlled newspapers tended to be anti-Benazir, the larger private sector of print media provided more diversity of opinion. Both the PDA and the IJI predicted victory, but at least one detailed public opinion poll gave the edge to the PDA.

The election results were disastrous for the PDA, as the IJI won 105 of the 207 contested seats in the National Assembly. The PDA won only forty-five seats. The IJI attributed its victory to success in holding its coalition together as well as in establishing electoral alliances nationwide to ensure that PDA candidates would not run unopposed. The PDA blamed the defeat on alleged rigging of the elections. Although the elections were certainly not free of irregularities, observation teams both from inside the country and from outside, including a team from member countries of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC), concluded that the elections had been generally free and fair. Despite their problems, the 1990 elections were another step forward in the quest for political stability and democratic government. The constitutional transfer of power was achieved without direct military intervention.

President Ghulam Ishaq Khan

A powerful player in the political equation was President Ishaq Khan. The president, under the constitution, is elected by a majority of the members of the national and provincial assemblies. Ishaq Khan was a seasoned senior bureaucrat-turned politician who had been a key figure in Pakistan for more than three decades. Born in 1915 in the North-West Frontier Province, he was appointed to the prestigious Civil Service of Pakistan after independence in 1947. After holding various regional posts, including being chairman of the West Pakistan Water and Power Development Authority (1961-66), he was appointed to several positions in the central government--first as secretary, Ministry of Finance (1966-70) and later as governor of the State Bank of Pakistan (1971-75). In the latter position, he questioned the wisdom of a number of the economic policies of then Prime Minister Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto. He was subsequently moved from the bank and made secretary general at the Ministry of Defence. Although an unusual post for a senior economics expert, it proved to be fortuitous in that it brought him into close contact with the senior officers of the armed forces. Among them was General Zia, who later ousted Bhutto and turned the management of the economy over to Ishaq Khan. During the martial law period (1977- 85), Ishaq Khan's titles changed, but he was responsible for all important economic decisions. Among other things, he supported the Zia government's efforts to Islamize the economy by changes in the fiscal and banking systems. [Source: Peter Blood, Library of Congress, 1994 *]

In 1985 Ishaq Khan was elected to the Senate and later became chairman of the Senate. The death of Zia in 1988 thrust Ishaq Khan to the center of the political stage. When the military decided to use the constitution to handle the issue of succession, Ishaq Khan, as chairman of the Senate and therefore next in the line of succession, became acting president. He and the emergency council he instituted decided to hold general elections and to allow political parties to participate. Thus, the country was guided back to democracy, Benazir became prime minister, and Ishaq Khan was subsequently elected president by the national and provincial assemblies.

Ishaq Khan's position was considerably strengthened by the Eighth Amendment to the constitution, introduced by President Zia, which allows the president to dismiss the government and to override the government's choice of army chief. When the previous army chief died unexpectedly, President Ishaq Khan reportedly turned down the government's choice and named General Abdul Waheed to head the army. General Waheed, who is not known to have any political ambitions, is from the same ethnic group as Ishaq Khan--the Pakhtuns of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (formerly North-West Frontier Province).

Intermittent and conflicting signals of rapprochement, realignment, and behind-the-scenes alliances among the various political players heightened the political tension in late 1992 and early 1993. There was speculation that the opposition and the government might join forces to muster a two-thirds majority in the parliament to repeal the Eighth Amendment or even that they might field a candidate against the president. However, it was also noticeable that Benazir had stopped openly attacking the president, and some observers considered that she might be playing for time, hoping to use the differences between the president and the prime minister to her own advantage. The army, however, always a key ingredient in the mix, continued to support the president as well as the continuation of the Eighth Amendment. Against this backdrop, Pakistan's developing democracy continued to be tested by economic problems, persistent violence, and corruption, as well as the power struggles of its leaders.

Moeen Qureshi

During his three-month tenure as caretaker prime minister, Moeen Qureshi initiated a substantial number of strong reform measures. He devalued the currency and cut farm subsidies, while raising the prices of wheat, electricity, and gasoline--strategies to reduce Pakistan's huge budget deficit-- 7.5 percent of the gross national product (GNP). Qureshi also cut public-sector expenditures by instituting austerity measures, including closing down ten embassies and abolishing fifteen ministries. Qureshi's most daring innovation, however, was a temporary levy on agricultural output--a measure resisted by powerful zamindari interests. [Source: Peter Blood, Library of Congress, 1994 *]

Qureshi next proceeded to single out those politicians who had outstanding loans obtained from state banks and institutions--loans received under easy terms in return for past political favors--a total estimated at US$2 billion. In a move calculated to shame these individuals, Qureshi added their names to a published list of 5,000 individuals who had not fulfilled their loan obligations. Approximately 15 percent of the individuals on the list had planned to run for office in the coming elections. These candidates included Benazir, Benazir s husband, and Nawaz Sharif's brother. Most candidates quickly repaid their loans; those who did not were barred from contesting the October 1993 elections. Drug-trafficking barons, however, a small but powerful group including some members of the parliament--were permanently barred from running in the elections. Anticipating a further crackdown, several of the drug barons fled the country.

In his three months in power, Qureshi exhibited an admirable degree of technocratic efficiency tempered by dogged determination. Yet it remained to be seen whether his achievements would be accepted without reversal by the subsequent administration. Indeed, the Qureshi caretaker government, some argue, because of its temporary nature, was not much constrained by the realpolitik of Pakistani society that the succeeding government would have to face. The Qureshi government had, nonetheless, set a standard--one with which past governments and the succeeding government of Benazir would no doubt be compared.

Election in 1990

Nawaz Sharif came to power the first time after the government of Benazir Bhutto was dissolved on August 6, 1990 by the Pakistani president and Sharif was elected in October 1990. He ran as the leader of the Islamic Democratic Alliance (IJI), an alliance of the Muslim League and other Islamic parties. They took 36.9 percent of the vote and 195 seats.

In the October 1990, the IJI won a two-thirds majority in the National Assembly and took control of all four provincial parliaments. Sharif, as leader of the Pakistan Muslim League (PML, the most prominent party was elected prime minister by the National Assembly. With such a strong mandate Sharif was the most powerful Pakistani prime minister since the mid-1970s.

The IJI alliance, a grouping of parties whose chief components were the PML and the JI, had been formed in 1988 to oppose the PPP in the elections of that year. In the 1988 elections, the PPP emerged as the single largest group in the National Assembly, and its leader, Benazir, became prime minister. At the same time, however, Nawaz Sharif emerged as the most powerful politician outside the PPP. Just two years later, the IJI under Nawaz Sharif's leadership achieved victory at the polls.

Sharif’s First Term as Prime Minister in the early 1990s

Nawaz Sharif was sworn in as prime minister on November 6, 1990. He took over in a peaceful, constitutional transfer of power — the third prime minister since Zia's death in 1988 ushered in a return to democracy. Nawaz Sharif's ascendancy also marked a transition in the political culture of Pakistan — a power shift from the traditional feudal aristocracy to a growing class of modern entrepreneurs. This transition mirrored the socioeconomic changes that had been at work in Pakistan, moving the country gradually from a feudal to an industrial society. [Source: Peter Blood, Library of Congress, 1994 *]

Sharif was the first elected political leader not to come from the feudal aristocracy. He was able to form national and regional governments. In his first address to the nation after taking office as prime minister, Nawaz Sharif announced his government's comprehensive national reconstruction plan and said that its implementation would ensure the successful march of Pakistan into the twenty-first century. He stressed that proper use of the country's natural resources would be made, the pace of industrialization expedited, and the best use of talented manpower identified. Under his development policy, investment would be encouraged, and restrictions on setting up new industries would be lifted. [Source: Peter Blood, Library of Congress, 1994 *]

Early assessments of Nawaz Sharif and his government noted his initiative, youthful energy, and already proven ability and popularity in his home province, the country's power base. The newspaper Dawn pointed out, however, that his Punjab connection was both an asset and a liability and that "to acquire a genuinely all-Pakistan stature, he will have to have ingenuity, and acumen, magnanimity and vision, and the strength to take bold decisions."

Nawaz Sharif's cabinet initially included eighteen ministers: nine from Punjab, two from the Islamabad Capital Territory, six from Sindh, and one from Balochistan. His cabinet was later expanded to include representation from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (formerly North-West Frontier Province). Of paramount importance to the new government was implementation of Nawaz Sharif's program for strengthening the economy. Goals of the program included self-reliance, deregulation and denationalization, taxation reform, foreign- exchange and payment reform, administrative and law reform, and increases in agricultural productivity and exports. The government's economic strategy rested on streamlining the institutional framework for industrialization and on starting a new partnership with the private sector in order to promote common objectives. Nawaz Sharif regarded unemployment as Pakistan's major problem and believed it could be solved only by rapid industrialization. He said his government was considering special incentives for rural industrialization and agro-based industries and was fully committed to a policy of deregulation.

From the outset, the Nawaz Sharif government's record was mixed. On the one hand, it achieved passage in May 1991 of the Shariat Bill, which declared the Quran and the sunna to be the law of the land. Islamic fundamentalists, on the other hand, did not think the bill went far enough. The more secular-minded Pakistanis feared that a theocracy was being established. A working group was set up to monitor and make recommendations for enforcing Islamic laws in the country. The working group adopted a nineteen-point plan that included calls for the implementation of all Islamic legislation, especially the laws creating sharia courts; transformation of the education system to reflect Islamic teaching; controls on the print and electronic media designed to ensure Islamic moral values; uniform and enforced prayer schedules; and the establishment of an Islamic banking system and the total abolition of interest. [Source: Peter Blood, Library of Congress, 1994 *]

Additionally, in November 1991 the Federal Shariat Court, Pakistan's supreme religious court, declared the provisions of some twenty federal and provincial laws repugnant to Islam. A particular problem was the ruling that payment of interest (riba) was prohibited by Islam even if the loan involved was for productive purposes. Although the government had publicly committed itself to Islamization, its major domestic policy initiative was the liberalization of the economy. If the ruling on riba were fully implemented, this new economic policy likely would fail. With no consensus in Pakistan regarding either the content or the pace of Islamic reform, Nawaz Sharif sought to strike an acceptable balance to enable his government to remain in power.

Pakistani Military Under Nawaz Sharif

The elections brought to power the Islamic Democratic Alliance (Islami Jamhoori Ittehad — IJI), a coalition that enjoyed the implicit support of both the president and the armed forces. Punjab's chief minister, Mian Nawaz Sharif, a businessman and protégé of Zia, became prime minister. Although the dismissal of Benazir had been against the spirit, if not the letter, of the constitution, the new power arrangement seemed to offer Pakistan favorable prospects for stable representative rule because the three power centers were all in apparent alignment, and Nawaz Sharif represented the interests of the Punjabi majority. The arrangement worked adequately for some time, and when General Beg's time for retirement as chief of the army staff came, he did not attempt to force an extension of his tour of duty. [Source: Peter Blood, Library of Congress, 1994 *]

Beg's replacement, General Asif Nawaz Janjua, was a much lower-profile leader and sought to lead the army away from corruption and toward a renewed emphasis on professionalism and a sensible adaptation to the post-Cold War realities of Pakistan's strategic position. The army, however, was drawn into politics in May 1992 when the law and order situation in Sindh deteriorated so badly that the provincial government invited the army to restore public order under Article 147 of the constitution. Although the army could not solve Sindh's many problems, it made significant progress in combatting the cycle of terror, banditry, and kidnapping that had plagued the province. The army stopped short of imposing martial law, but it intervened in the politics of the province and, in the process, moved against political allies of Nawaz Sharif, the IJI coalition prime minister, who was already at odds with the president.*

General Janjua died suddenly in January 1993, and President Ishaq Khan used his prerogative to reach well down the list of lieutenant generals to appoint Abdul Waheed, a highly regarded officer without apparent political aspirations. Waheed seemed to fit Pakistani political scientist Mohammad Waseem's description as "the transition from a group of conservative generals led by Zia who were inspired by Islamic ideals to a relatively liberal and modernist generation of military officers who have positive attitudes toward Western-style democracy."

Waheed was quickly called upon to demonstrate his commitment to democratic process. When a power struggle between the president and the prime minister in April 1993 resulted in Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif's ouster, the military resisted the temptation to take charge during the ensuing period of political turmoil. In July, Waheed brokered a settlement in which both the prime minister and the president resigned, a neutral caretaker government was appointed, and new elections were scheduled for October.*

There remained different points of view within the officer corps, almost all of whom had little respect for politicians and feared that an incompetent civilian leader might irreparably damage their core values — the integrity of the military and the security of Pakistan. Some officers were politically ambitious and had found their period of power under Zia rewarding — financially and otherwise. Many, however, believed that any political activity, whether in the context of martial law or in the context of helping elected leaders deal with crises caused by politicians' ineptitude, undermined discipline and morale and detracted from the ability of the armed forces to perform military missions. Retired General Shaukat Riza, describing an earlier period of martial law observed: "After a short period of hot, righteous action, military men succumb to setting their mark on whatever is served up to them. Martial Law is disarmed, leaving in its wake a debris of shattered dreams and wasting social order."

Problems for Nawaz Sharif

Nawaz Sharif ultimately proved to be a weak leader. Bhutto fought and often humiliated Sharif as parliamentary opposition leader. His government also had to contend with rampant crime and terrorism, which continued to be a cause for alarm in the country, particularly in Sindh. Kidnappings, bombings, and murders persisted despite concerted efforts by the police and the military to stem lawlessness. Pakistanis called this state of affairs the Kalashnikov culture because the flood of available automatic weapons gave long-standing ethnic and political rivalries a deadly new significance. The arms were largely a legacy from the war in neighboring Afghanistan. The police were increasingly outgunned, and even foreigners were not immune from attack. In the summer of 1991, the prime minister was forced to cancel an important trip to Japan in quest of investment in order to calm a population shaken by a particularly savage string of murders in Punjab. In an effort to stem the violence, the government decreed that Pakistanis turn in their weapons, but, predictably, few of them did. The government also passed the Twelfth Amendment to the constitution, which provided for the further jurisdictional authority of Speedy Trial Courts to dispense summary justice. The opposition, however, criticized the law as suppressing fundamental rights.

Nawaz Sharif held to his conviction that the solution to Pakistan's political problems was free-market reform and economic growth, so he liberalized foreign-exchange regulations and denationalized public-sector industrial enterprises and financial institutions. Furthermore, government approval was no longer required for the establishment of new industrial enterprises (with some exceptions, particularly in relation to arms and explosives). A number of important industries such as electricity generation, shipping, airlines, highway construction, and telecommunications were opened up to the private sector. Although there was support for liberalizing and privatizing the economy, there was considerable criticism of the process of implementation. Some critics feared that moving too fast could produce turmoil, with the resultant demand for renationalization. Other critics asked for protection for the more vulnerable groups in society who would not be able to compete in a free market. The government's ability to focus effectively on and deal with these problems was weakened by its involvement with the Pakistan Cooperative Societies and the Bank of Credit and Commerce International (BCCI) financial scandals.

In keeping with his goals of consolidating economic growth and overcoming the country's regional divisions, Nawaz Sharif was convinced of the need for a modern national infrastructure, regardless of cost. As a result, he launched the construction of a US$1 billion superhighway project, which National Highway Authority chairman Hidayat Niazi described as a step toward building a nation.

Nawaz Sharif's government continued to be under pressure from within and without, and his ruling coalition, the IJI, was plagued by internal dissention. Tensions, disagreements, and political rivalries were present within the IJI's largest component, the Pakistan Muslim League. In May 1992, the fundamentalist JI, the second largest member of the coalition, formally left the IJI. Since its inception, the IJI had been an alliance of varied right-of-center and Islamic parties in a marriage of convenience to oppose the PPP. However, the PML and the JI had long been antagonists, and their disagreements mounted over a number of issues. The JI was unhappy with the IJI government's support of Saudi Arabia and the United States during the Persian Gulf crisis (1990-91), fearing that the defeat of Iraq would transform Shia Iran into a major regional power. The JI also criticized the mainstream PML for what it perceived to be foot-dragging on Islamization, including the matter of riba, as well as its abandonment of support for the Afghan mujahidin in favor of efforts to establish a neutral, United Nations-sponsored government in Kabul. The JI also criticized the government's policy on Kashmir as not evidencing sufficient commitment to Islamic "freedom fighters" there.

The government's chief opposition, Benazir and the PPP, criticized Nawaz Sharif's efforts at privatization, calling them the "loot and plunder" of Pakistan and saying his plan favored large investors and ran roughshod over labor. Benazir was also critical of the government's Islamization policies and continued to allege that the 1990 elections, which brought Nawaz Sharif's government to power, were fraudulent. In late 1992, she tried to organize widespread protest marches against the government. In response, Nawaz Sharif banned Benazir from two of the country's largest cities and ordered police measures against her supporters.

Benazir ultimately did not muster enough demonstrators throughout the country to threaten the government. However, Nawaz Sharif's actions, in the eyes of some, made him appear too willing to espouse repressive measures rather than adhere to democratic principles. Subsequently, relations between Nawaz Sharif and Benazir appeared to soften somewhat. He reportedly ceased calling her an "enemy of Pakistan," and Benazir abandoned her demonstrations designed to topple Nawaz Sharif's government through street power.

Decline and Ouster

Sharif was dismissed by the president for corruption and incompetence. He left office after losing to Bhutto in an October 1993 election.

In 1993 widespread government corruption was exposed, corrupt officials dismissed, and political reforms undertaken. Elections were held in October and the PPP, leading a coalition called the People’s Democratic Alliance (PDA), returned to power, with Benazir Bhutto again prime minister. Farooq Leghari was elected president. In 1996 Leghari dismissed Bhutto and her cabinet and dissolved the National Assembly.

[Source: CNN]

April 18, 1993 — Sharif's government is dismissed by President Ghulam Ishaq Khan after charges of corruption and mismanagement are raised. Sharif's family-owned business grew tremendously during his tenure in office, causing suspicion of corruption. May 26, 1993 — Pakistan's Supreme Court orders the reinstatement of Sharif, calling his dismissal unconstitutional and the charges false. Sharif and Khan both later resign.

The ruling coalition appeared to weaken by early 1993. The four major powers in Pakistan continued to be the president, the military, Nawaz Sharif's IJI government, and the PPP opposition led by Benazir. Reports of a growing rift between Nawaz Sharif and Ishaq Khan became more commonplace. The military--which never had an overt constitutional role in the government but which had historically been a key player in the formation and dismissal of governments--was closely and nervously monitored by observers.

The IJI government was third in a line representing a dyarchical arrangement of shared power between Pakistan's civil- military and political forces. Nawaz Sharif and his predecessors, Junejo and Benazir, came to power under a constitutional framework in which, under the controversial Eighth Amendment introduced by Zia, the president was empowered to dissolve the parliament and dismiss the government. Both Junejo and Benazir had earlier been unceremoniously dismissed from office, and the constitutional framework limited Nawaz Sharif's ability to govern despite the support of a majority in the parliament. He, too, would be dismissed under the constitutional framework in 1993. [Source: Peter Blood, Library of Congress, 1994 *]

President Ishaq Khan had been credited with guiding Pakistan back to democracy after eleven years of autocracy and martial law under Zia. After Zia's death, Ishaq Khan, then chairman of the Senate, was next in the line of succession as stipulated in the constitution. The armed forces requested him to assume the presidency. As acting president, Ishaq Khan instituted an emergency council, and he and the council decided that general elections would be held in November 1988 and that political parties would be allowed to participate in them. When the PPP won these elections, Ishaq Khan called on Benazir to form a government, and she was sworn in as prime minister. Ishaq Khan was elected president by a combined sitting of the national and provincial assemblies, receiving 78 percent of the electoral votes. When Ishaq Khan dismissed Benazir and her government in 1990, he again called a general election. As a result, Nawaz Sharif was brought to power in 1990. [Source: Peter Blood, Library of Congress, 1994 *]

Pakistan's emerging two-party system was strengthened by the 1988 and 1990 elections and the constitutional transfer of power in 1990 from Benazir to Nawaz Sharif. In these elections, the two political alliances, the IJI and the PDA (headed by the PPP), became the main contenders for power. Although both alliances agreed on Pakistan's need for a liberal democracy and a market economy, the PDA opposition represented a real political challenge to the government, and Benazir conducted a relentless campaign to oust Nawaz Sharif.

Struggle Between Nawaz Sharif and Ishaq Khan

In 1993 a protracted power struggle between Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and President Ishaq Khan played out as Pakistan's two leading politicians maneuvered each other out of power. This period of behind-the-scenes struggle was described by a Pakistani daily as a "Silent Revolution" and was watched with some concern by the international community, which feared that Pakistan could once again fall under military rule. [Source: Peter Blood, Library of Congress, 1994 *]

On April 18, 1993, the power struggle seemed to be resolved when President Ishaq Khan, exercising the extraordinary constitutional powers afforded the president by the Eighth Amendment, dismissed the government of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. For the second time, Ishaq Khan had invoked the Eighth Amendment to bring down an elected government. The charges of corruption and mismanagement of the economy that he leveled against Nawaz Sharif were almost identical to those he had earlier brought against Benazir in 1990. President Ishaq Khan appointed Balakh Sher Mazari, described by the New York Times as heading "a tribal clan of landowners," as caretaker prime minister and announced a new timetable for elections.

On May 26, 1993, the Supreme Court voted that Ishaq Khan's dissolution of the National Assembly and his dismissal of the prime minister were unconstitutional. The Supreme Court's action was a sharp rebuke of Ishaq Khan's heavy-handed exercise of presidential powers and was widely hailed as a victory for the advocates of democratization. Yet, although the Supreme Court was able to reinstate the Nawaz Sharif government, the status quo ante was not restored, and the struggle between the president and the prime minister continued unabated, making the pursuit of regular government workings impossible. Noting the mounting impatience of the Pakistani military with the endless machinations of the country's politicians, the United States and the European Community communicated their concern, warning against a military takeover.

The continuing political crisis in Pakistan came to an abrupt halt when the prime minister and president both resigned after two weeks of intense negotiations among the Nawaz Sharif government, Benazir, and the army. The resolution of the crisis was unique because for the first time in the nation's history a government had voluntarily stepped down in order to avoid a possible military intervention. Interestingly, the negotiations had been mediated by General Waheed, the chief of the army staff. The resultant agreement and its implementation followed strict constitutional procedure. Ishaq Khan was replaced by the chairman of the Senate, Wasim Sajjad, who functioned as acting president until the elections. More important, Moeen Qureshi, a former civil servant and senior World Bank official, agreed to serve as caretaker prime minister. Qureshi, a Pakistani national, had left the World Bank in 1992, obtained permanent residence status in the United States, and established his own company, Emerging Markets Corporation.

1993 Elections

Bhutto became prime minister again in October 1993 after forming a coalition government after her party the PPP took 86 of the National Assembly's 217 seats. Her closest rival, Nawaz Shari’s PML party, won 72 seats. Others won 44. In the two weeks that followed the election, Benazir was successful in mustering the allegiance of a number of small regional and independent members of the assembly and on October 19, 1993, was able to reclaim power with 121 seats in her coalition government. The October elections were hailed as the fairest in Pakistan's history and were, according to international observers, held "without hindrance or intimidation." Voter turnout, however, was lower than usual, as only about 40 percent of registered voters participated. [Source: Peter Blood, Library of Congress, 1994 *]

The unfavorable circumstances surrounding PPP rule—the imperative of preserving a coalition government, the formidable opposition of Nawaz Sharif's PML/N (Pakistani Muslim League-Nawaz) movement, and the insecure provincial administrations—presented significant difficulties for the government of Prime Minister Bhutto. However, the election of Prime Minister Bhutto's close associate, Farooq Leghari, as President in November 1993 gave her a stronger power base.” [Source: Countries of the World and Their Leaders Yearbook 2009, Gale]

Benazir benefited in the 1993 national elections from the MQM's boycott. In the 1990 national elections, the MQM, which had captured fifteen seats, supported Nawaz Sharif's IJI coalition. Benazir also benefited by the poor showing of the religious parties. After only one month in office, Benazir was able to strengthen her position considerably. On November 13, 1993, Benazir's candidate for president, Farooq Leghari, an Oxfordeducated PPP stalwart, easily defeated acting President Wassim Sajjad, who was backed by Nawaz Sharif. In a vote by the two parliamentary chambers--the National Assembly and the Senate--and the four provincial assemblies, Leghari won 273 votes to Sajjad s 167. Bhutto hailed Leghari's election as a triumph for democracy and predicted that he would contribute to the country's stability. *

During her second tern Bhutto mismanaged the economy and alienate people at home and lost credibility overseas. The outspoken democrat, had political opponents, including the former and next prime minister, Nawaz Sharif, arrested and thrown in prison. Protests mounted against her and sectarian violence that she was unable to stop flared up. When anarchy descended on Karachi after the elected government was ousted, she hired a helicopter pilot to run the city.

According to the “Worldmark Encyclopedia of Nations”: “During late 1992 and early 1993, the president and the new prime minister moved toward a new confrontation over the exercise of their respective powers. Challenged by Nawaz Sharif on the president's choice of a new army chief, Ghulam Ishaq again used his eighth amendment powers to dismiss the government and dissolve the assembly on 18 April, alleging mismanagement and corruption. But public reaction to the president's actions was strong, and on 26 May, a supreme court ruling restored Nawaz Sharif to power, creating a period of constitutional gridlock until 18 July when the army chief brokered a deal in which both Ghulam Ishaq and Nawaz Sharif left office. Sharif resigned and was replaced by Ishaq Khan as interim prime minister by Moeen Qureshi, a former World Bank vice president; the president was then replaced by Wasim Sajjad, chairman of the senate. [Source: “Worldmark Encyclopedia of Nations”, Thomson Gale, 2007]

Sharif's Second Term as Prime Minister

Nawaz Sharif was elected again as prime minister on February 3, 1997 in Pakistan's largest landslide victory. His Muslim League party captured 134 of the National Assembly's 202 seats. His closest rival, Benazir Bhutto, won only 18 seats. Members of other parties won 50 seats. The most disappointing thing about the victory is that only 40 percent of the nations voters went to the polls.

On February 17, 1997, Nawaz Sharif was sworn in as prime minister. In April 1997, he fired the navy Chief Admiral Mansur-ul Haq, who was suspected of being corrupt and misusing funds. It marked the first time in 25 years that a military chief was removed by civilian government.

Sharif soon moved to enact legislation curbing the president's power to dismiss elected governments and to appoint armed forces chiefs; the supreme court blocked these moves and reinstated a corruption inquiry against Sharif. In an apparent victory for Sharif, President Leghari resigned in Dec., 1997, and the chief justice of the supreme court was dismissed. Mohammad Rafiq Tarar became president in 1998. [Source: Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed., The Columbia University Press]

Sharif managed to stay in office for 31 months. In that time he clamped down and those who opposed but did little to improve the economy, and in fact made it worse. Sharif met with India's leader ordered the testing of Pakistan's nuclear weapons and presided over the Kargil debacle. Pakistan was technically bankrupt and the economy verged on the edge of collapse after international sanction were imposed after the nuclear tests. Foreign invest died up and inflation and unemployment soared.

In 1999, after Pakistani had become quite disenchanted with their prime minister, Sharif produced making Pakistan an Islamic society with a legal system based exclusively on the Quran. The Islamic card is usually played in Pakistan by leaders in a state of desperation. Sharif became very unpopular. He was condemned as corrupt and as weak, indecisive, "a man without ideology" and a man who tried too hard to please the United States.

“The shake-up of the military resulted in the dismissal and imprisonment of several high-ranking officials. In early 1998 Pakistani officials began investigating allegations that during her time in office, Benazir Bhutto and her husband, Asif Ali Zardari, were involved in diverting more than US$100 million to foreign bank accounts managed by her family. The government estimated that the couple indirectly received US$1.5 billion through illegal payments and bribes.

“In November 1996, President Leghari dismissed the Bhutto government, charging it with corruption, mismanagement of the economy, and implication in extrajudicial killings in Karachi. Elections in February 1997, resulted in an overwhelming victory for the PML/N, and President Leghari called upon Nawaz Sharif to form a government. In March 1997, with the unanimous support of the National Assembly, Sharif amended the Constitution, stripping the President of the power to dismiss the government and making his power to appoint military service chiefs and provincial governors contingent on the “advice” of the Prime Minister. Another amendment prohibited elected members from “floor crossing” or voting against party positions. The Sharif government also engaged in a protracted dispute with the judiciary, culminating in the storming of the Supreme Court by ruling party loyalists and the engineered dismissal of the Chief Justice and the resignation of President Leghari in December 1997. The new President elected by Parliament, Rafiq Tarar, was a close associate of the Prime Minister. A one-sided, anti-corruption campaign was used to target opposition politicians and critics of the regime. Similarly, the government moved to restrict press criticism and ordered the arrest and beating of prominent journalists. As domestic criticism of Sharif's administration intensified, Sharif attempted to replace Chief of Army Staff General Pervez Musharraf on October 12, 1999, with a family loyalist, Director General of the Interservice Intelligence Directorate, Lt. Gen. Ziauddin. Although General Musharraf was out of the country at the time, the army moved quickly to depose Sharif.

Repression Under Sharif

Sharif's dismissed judges and administrators that opposed him and filled the positions with people who were loyal to him. He manipulated the corruption trials of his rival Bhutto. He also attempted to manipulate the military in same way, ultimately with less success.

Many victims of Karachi violence were hideously scared. After a wealthy philanthropist was killed, Sharif called for emergency rule, with army taking over the courts and soldiers hitting the streets in armored vehicles. Dozens were arrested. Some were killed under mysterious circumstances while in police custody.

Sharif also clamped down on the press that criticized him by intimidating journalists and editors, cutting off paper supplies and seizing papers from delivery trucks. Journalists and editors were routinely intimidated and thrown in jail. Some were victim of stabbing attacks.

The most publicized cased involved Najam Sethi, the editor of the feisty Friday Times, which was highly critical of both Bhutto and Sharif. In April 1999, Sethi wrote a critical editorial about Sharif's refusal to pay back US$50 million in loans on the grounds that the interest accrued in the loans was unIslamic, A few days later 10 armed men burst into Sethi's house in the middle in the night. Sethi was brutally beaten up, handcuffed, blindfolded and thrown into a car and his wife was tied up. He disappeared for two weeks and it is believed he may have disappeared altogether were it not for the efforts of his well-connected wife.

Afterwards he was accused of being unIslamic because he had given a speech in India. When he attempted to fly to London to receive an Amnesty International award his passport was seized.

Sharif and Corruption

Sharif and his brother Shabaz ran the government like a family business and had a reputation for taking large kickbacks, exceeding the Benazir Bhutto government in what the stole. By some accounts they took US$2 billion.

Sharif was accused of using his power to enrich himself, his family, his cabinet and his friends, who all received funds, contracts, exemption from taxes and huge loans that they did not have to pay back. They also borrowed millions from foreign banks, which weren't paid back either. In the meantime Sharif' government was telling ordinary Pakistanis to "eat grass" so that money saved can be used to strengthen the military and build nuclear bombs.

Sharif, his family and cronies reportedly stole hundreds of millions of dollars from public works, wheat imports, exports, and government project. One investor told the New York Times, he "was running the government like his own private businesses."

Sharif and his crew reported pocketed at US$160 million from a contract to build a highway from Lahore to Islamabad. They also took at least US$140 million in unsecured loans to finance companies owned or controlled Sharif. The money was not paid back. More than US$60 million was earned from government rebates to sugar mills owned by Sharif. At least US$58 million was skimmed from inflated prices on wheat imported from the United States and Canada. Sharif ordered the construction of a new US$24 million office complex in Islamabad with US$5,500 doors and a table that cost US$58,700. Maintenance and staff salaries for Sharif’s home, Olympic-size pool, gymnasium and cricket fields cost US$163,000 a day.

Nuclear Tests and the Kargil Debacle

In May 1998 India conducted several underground nuclear test explosions, prompting international outcry. The tests were India’s first since 1974. Two weeks later Pakistan reacted by detonating five nuclear devices. Many countries responded with condemnation and sanctions, but Pakistan felt that it finally possessed sufficient deterrent force against its perennial rival, India.

Deterrence failed to prevent trouble in Kashmir and may have even encouraged it. In May 1999, several hundred Pakistani troops and Islamic militants infiltrated the Indian-held Kargil region of Kashmir. Two months of intense fighting brought Pakistan and India to the brink of all-out war. Under intense diplomatic pressure from the United States, but against the wishes of Pakistan's military, Nawaz Sharif ordered a withdrawal from Kargil in July 1999. This unpopular decision contributed to the prime minister's eventual downfall.

The United States imposed economic sanctions against both India and Pakistan over the nuclear weapons test. Pakistan had sent 5,000 troops to the 1991 Gulf War as part of a US led coalition and specifically for the defence of Saudi Arabia.

Sharif is Ousted in Military Coup

In October 1999, Sharif was arrested and ousted in a bloodless coup orchestrated by Army General Pervez Musharraf, who replaced him. Encountering little resistance, army units fanned out across the country and seized control of the airports, state television and communications. Later Sharif was arrested, the cabinet was sacked, Parliament and the constitution were suspended and martial was tacitly declared. The coup was all over in 48 hours and not a single shot was fired. It was the fourth coup since Pakistan became independent in 1947 and the first since 1988, when democracy was restored.

The coup was well planned and was described as one of the calmest coups in history. Few barricades were set up, shops remained open; and telephone and television service was quickly restored. The coup was so peaceful that spectators showed up outside Sharif's official residence to watch. Many left disappointed because they didn't see anything.

The coup was popular with many ordinary Pakistanis, who were tired with the direction that Pakistan had taken under Bhutto and Sharif and hoped the military could bring stability and improve the basket case economy. People danced and partied in the streets when they heard the news. One school principal told the New York Times, "I don't think there should be any more elections, There should be a strong dictator." General Musharraf named himself president of Pakistan in June 2001 while remaining head of the army.

Events Leading up to the Coup in 1999

The coup came after weeks of escalating tensions between the Sharif government and the Pakistani military. Pakistani military leaders considered the withdrawal from Kargil in June 1999 to be a humiliation and were appalled by how Sharif handled the whole thing. Sharif reportedly had a major roll in organizing the offensive but gave the orders to withdraw after being pressured to do so by Washington and then tried to distance himself from whole thing and blame the disaster on the military.

India and Pakistan had engaged in a limited conflict in the Kargil War, which Pakistan was widely seen as precipitating because of its suspected support of militants who entered Indian-held Kashmir from Pakistani-held Kashmir. The conflict proved to be embarrassing for the government, and, with the economy suffering tremendously, Musharraf overthrew Sharif. [Source: Library of Congress, February 2005]

Sharif and Musharraf mistrusted each other. Musharraf was angry that he was appointed for only a year rather than the customary three years. The coup came within hours after Sharif made the decision to fire Musharraf, then head of the Pakistani military, and replace him head of Pakistani intelligence. Musharraf had anticipated the move and set the coup in motion seizing Pakistan's television headquarters two hours after he was fired.

Drama on Plane

Distrustful of Musharraf, Nawaz Sharif dismissed Musharraf while he was in the air returning from a visit to Sri Lanka. However, when the general's plane was denied permission to land at Karachi Airport, army troops loyal to Musharraf seized the airport and arrested Sharif.

When he was fired, Musharraf was on PIA commercial plane flying from Columbo to Karachi. Sharif refused to let the plane land in Karachi even though it was slow on fuel. The plane was told to land in Oman and then India. The pilot said he didn't have enough fuel to make it to Oman and pleas by the pilot to land in Lahore or Islamabad were denied. The pilot was then told to land in the town of Nawabshah, where Sharif reportedly had planned to have Musharraf arrested.

The plane spent more than an hour in a holding pattern, Musharraf went into the cockpit and ordered the pilot to land in Karachi. With the help of the pilot Musharraf contained his generals after being patched through Dubai. The generals ordered a commando team to seize Karachi airport so the plane could land. When the plane landed it reportedly had only seven minutes worth of fuel left.

Musharraf landed as de facto leader of Pakistan. Troops loyal to Musharraf occupied the television station and the prime minister’s residence. Musharraf borrowed a uniform and made a brief speech on television in which he said the army had no choice but to do what it did and the situation was under control.

Sharif Arrested and Sentenced to Life in Prison

Later Nawaz Sharif was charged with treason, hijacking, kidnapping, and attempted murder in connection with a order he gave to not allow a plane carrying Musharraf, the coup leader, to land, endangering the lives of 200 people on the plane.

In January 2000, Sharif went on trial for charges of hijacking/terrorism and conspiracy to commit murder. In March 2000, three gunmen burst into the office of Sharif's lawyer and shot and killed him. Before he was shot the lawyer claimed that his office had been illegally searched and documents were stolen. Many think that the killing had more to with the lawyers anti-terrorist persecution than the Sharif case.

In the trial the director-general of Pakistan's Civil Aviation authority receive a call from Sharif telling that plane carry the coup leader "should not be allowed to land anywhere in Pakistan." Testifying in his own defense, Sharif said he was framed.

In April 2000, Sharif was found not guilty of murder and kidnaping but was found guilty of hijacking and terrorism and sentenced to two life sentences in prison. The military had sought the death penalty in the case. He was charged with hijacking because he attempted to prevent a plane Musharraf was flying in from landing at any airport in Pakistan, when the plane was low on fuel. Sharif knew of Musharraf's coup intentions. In July, 2000 Nawaz Sharif was convicted of corruption and sentenced to an additional 14-years imprisonment while already serving a life sentence. His failure to declare assets and pay taxes led to the conviction.

Sharif Exiled

In December 2000, a deal was brokered by the Saudi Arabian government in which Sharif was bared from taking part in politics or criticize the Pakistani government and forfeit all of his assets and property in return for being freed from jail, receiving a presidential pardon for criminal convictions and amnesty from pending charges and exiled in Saudi Arabia for 10 years. Sharif paid US$8.3 million and flew to Saudi Arabia with 40 relatives.

Around the same time, Sharif's Muslim League formed an alliance with Bhutto's Pakistan People's Party to oust the military government. Sharif’s party continued to operate and held seats in parliament with Sharif still viewed as its leader. In 2002, Sharif put his support behind Bhutto who was not allowed to participate in elections that year. In May 2004., Sharif’s brother Shahbaz tried to return to Pakistan in May 2004, and was immediately deported by armed guards.

Nawaz Sharif was exile in Saudi Arabia from December 2000 to August 2007. In October, 29, 2004, Nawaz's father, died and Sharif sought a brief return to Pakistan to attend his funeral. The request is denied. In August 2007, Pakistan's Supreme court lifts the exile imposed on Sharif. He served only seven of his 10-year exile. In September 2007, he attempted to return to Pakistan but was deported just hours after his arrival. In November 2007, Sharif returns to Pakistan for good from exile in Saudi Arabia, arriving in Lahore. [Source: BBC, July 28, 2017]

Image Sources: Wikimedia Commons

Text Sources: New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Lonely Planet Guides, Library of Congress, Pakistan Tourism Development Corporation (, Official Gateway to the Government of Pakistan (, The Guardian, National Geographic, Smithsonian magazine, The New Yorker, Time, Reuters, Associated Press, AFP, Wikipedia and various books, websites and other publications.

Last updated February 2022

This site contains copyrighted material the use of which has not always been authorized by the copyright owner. Such material is made available in an effort to advance understanding of country or topic discussed in the article. This constitutes 'fair use' of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond 'fair use', you must obtain permission from the copyright owner. If you are the copyright owner and would like this content removed from, please contact me.