This is the short version of how in a mere 15 years small street thugs running gambling dens became leaders of a country running narcotics, underworld and smuggling empires, untouched by everyone.
PART – 1: THE BEGINNING
After that Nawaz Sharif had completed his education, in the 3rd division in B.A from Govt College, Lahore as he got admission in Govt College Lahore, on recommendations (sifarish), and he used to be called in the class as “Kuggoo”, because he was a dullard and never participated in the class discussions / activities nor replied to any question he has ever asked by the lecturer, told by his class mates.
His father Mian Muhammad Sharif started him in the business. However, this proved a disaster. As a second option Mian Muhammad Sharif set him up with Pakistani actor Saeed Khan Rangeela to get him into acting (something which Nawaz Sharif wanted). A few days later Saeed Khan Rangeela sent his regrets to Mian Muhammad Sharif saying that his son was too dumb for acting and movie industry. Mian Muhammad Sharif then hired cricket coaches to train his son for cricket, but his physical fitness was too low for the sport. It is rumored that by mid-day on his first day at training Nawaz Sharif threw the bat down and left the stadium.
As a last resort he paid General Ghulam Jilani Khan a considerable sum of money to introduce Nawaz Sharif to General Zia-ul-Haq recommending him for a political post, who in turn made Nawaz Sharif the Finance Minister of Punjab.
(Gen. Gilani was not offered money, in fact he had been presented a ‘White Palace’ made on a 4-kanal corner plot in Lahore Cant and it was worth Rs. 4 crores then. It was just beautiful with Victorian style round porch with a running fountain in the center. But Mian Sharif, being business man, recovered many ‘4 crores’ out of the son’s post of Finance Minister of Punjab, and it was sure that Nawaz Sharif would not be able to write his designation with correct spellings.
However, this was the day when the street thugs of Mohni Road had stepped on to becoming the national thugs of Pakistan.
The day Nawaz Sharif had become Finance Minister, the entire family’s earnings were few million rupees and had only one re-rolling mill. From there they went on to: Ittefaq Sugar Mills was set up in 1982, Brothers steel in 1983, Brother’s Textile Mills in 1986, Brothers Sugar Mills Ltd in 1986, Ittefaq Textile units in 2-3 in 1987, Khalid Siraj Textile Mills in 1988, Ramzan Buksh Textiles in 1987, Farooq Barkat (pvt) Ltd in 1985. (All on loans from the government as Ziaul Haq used to approve all of his loans requests and also request of writing off loans. That is why when PPP Govt.took-over and the written off loans were calculated by the first Public Accounts Committee, there were two persons at the top i.e. Choudhy brothers, 22 billions, and Mian Sharif 21 billion, all written off by Ziaul Haq. It is still on record in PAC Report of 1989.)
By the time of Zia ul Haq’s fateful plane crashed, Mian Muhammad Sharif’s family was earning a net profit of US$ 3 million, up from a few million rupees. By the end of the decade their net assets were worth more than 6 billion rupees, according to their own admission, nearly US$ 350 million at the time. But this turned out to be small-change when Nawaz Sharif became the Prime Minister.
When Nawaz Sharif became prime minister, the group took a decision to secure project loans from the foreign banks and only working capital was taken from the nationalized commercial banks. The project financing from foreign banks was ostensibly secured against the foreign currency deposits, a number of which were held in benamee accounts, as repeatedly claimed by Interior Minister Naseer Ullah Babar at his press conferences. In 1992 Salman Taseer released an account of Nawaz Sharif’s corruption stating that the family had taken loans of up to 12 billion rupees, which were never paid back. On March 2, 1994, Khalid Siraj, a cousin of Nawaz Sharif claimed that the assets of the seven brothers were valued at Rs 21 billion.
These were the accounts of profits and companies which were openly known to public. However, the family kept their side business going all the while – the gambling dens and heroin control in Lahore – and along with their industry the side business also mushroomed.
During the Afghan-Soviet War Nawaz Sharif’s cousin and brother-in-law, Sohail Zia Butt started working under the drug baron Mirza Iqbal Beg, then Pakistan’s second biggest drug lord after Ayub Afridi. Mian Muhammad Sharif and his sons had a permanent share in his gambling and heroin business. In 1990 Suhail Butt won a seat on the Islami Jamhoori Ittehad ticket in the Punjab Assembly. It was through Sohail Butt’s association that Nawaz Sharif became a close associate of Mirza Iqbal Beg. It was through him that Nawaz Sharif became benami owner of many of the privatized government entities, such as Muslim Commercial Bank. Sohail Zia Butt other than getting involved in the drug business made billions in the co-operative societies’ collapse, mainly through the National Industrial Credit and Finance Corporation. It was Nawaz Sharif’s share in his cousin’s drug business which he used to buy off the generals thereby delaying the inevitable dismissal of his government.
In 1995 when Mirza Iqbal Beg was imprisoned, Sohail Zia Butt took over his drug empire. It was at this time that he became one of the biggest drug and crime bosses in Pakistan and was nicknamed the “King of Heera Mandi” and at one time all six underworld gangs of Lahore were working under him.
By 1995 family’s declared annual profits from industrial units had increased 1500% from US$ 30 million to staggering US$ 400 million.
PART – 2: THE CONTINUATION
The following is an excellent excerpt exposing some of the corruption conducted by Nawaz Sharif by the host of DM Digital, Farhan Aslam, who also used to work for ARY Digital a few years ago.
The report has been divided into six segments. I will offer a short summary of the discussion, followed by the clips themselves.
Nawaz Sharif’s only agenda was to make money. In order to achieve this goal, he formed/changed laws and policies for his personal benefit and expanded his business empire by misusing his authority as Prime Minister. Interestingly enough and ironically, the PPP played a major role in exposing the corruption of Nawaz Sharif and his family. The Jamaat-e-Islami had also leveled a number of corruption allegations upon Nawaz Sharif. As we know, later Sharif and his cronies also played a role in exposing the corruption of Benazir Bhutto and her PPP. In other words, both Sharif and Bhutto have been busy over the years actively accusing each other of committing corruption.
Nawaz Sharif is widely acknowledged to be a highly incompetent person, with a low mediocre IQ. level. The brain behind him was that of his late “Abba Jee” (‘daddy’) – the mastermind and the main decision maker behind the scene.
In order to consolidate and attain more power, Nawaz Sharif attacked every individual and institutions he felt could get in the way challenge his authority. In order to get rid of the then Chief Justice Sajjad Ali Shah, who was despised by Sharif, the later created divisions among the judges to make life difficult for the Chief Justice. A group of judges refused to acknowledge Shah as the Chief Justice and things got so bad that a number of junior judges put hurdles in the way of the Chief Justice in order to make it difficult for him to carry out his duties. Eventually, Sharif ordered his thugs to attack the Supreme Court in order to prevent the Chief Justice from giving a ruling against him.
The police did nothing to stop Sharif’s thugs as they attacked and entered the Supreme Court. The judges inside the building barely managed to escape. The thugs, led by Sajjad Naseem and Mushtaq Tahir, Nawaz Sharif’s political secretaries, entered the court chanting anti-Sajjad slogans and destroyed the furniture.
Next, consider Nawaz Sharif’s relationship with the press and media. Two examples will suffice. On 8th May 1999, Najam Sethi, a prominent journalist of Pakistan, was arrested by the police on the orders of Sharif. Sethi has committed the crime of annoying Nawaz Sharif by writing a critical essay against him. The police broke into Sethi’s house at around 2 am and beat him up in his bedroom in front of his wife, after which he was transported off to a secret location. The police trashed Sethi’s house, broke the furniture and beat him up quite bad. Sethi was only released after a lot of international pressure had built up against Sharif. Sharif also demanded the Jang Group to get rid of all the journalists who were critical of him. To achieve this goal, Sharif and his cronies used a variety of legal and illegal means to pressure the Jang Group into compliance.
There is probably no institution in Pakistan which Nawaz Sharif did not aggressively confront in order make them comply to his wishes. Besides picking on a fight with the President, the Judiciary and the already restricted/limited media, Sharif also decided to have a confrontation with the army, the only viable institution left in Pakistan. Chief of Army Staff, General Jehangir Karamat, and Nawaz Sharif had a conflict over an issue pertaining to the national security council and both entered into a heated discussion, after which Gen. Karamat had to offer his resignation. Jehangir Karamat thus became the first Chief of Army Staff in the history of Pakistan to have left the army in this prematurely in this manner.
One by one all challenges and potential obstacles were removed from the way by Nawaz Sharif. Ghulam Ishaq Khan, Farooq Leghari, Sajjad Ali Shah, and Jehangir Karamat, as well as others, were all removed from the scene by Sharif.
After the removal of Jehangir Karamat, Sharif appointed Pervaiz Musharraf as the Chief of Army Staff. Some analysts at the time said that Sharif made this decision thinking that Pervaiz Musharraf was an Urdu speaker and did not belong to a Punjabi army family, thus very unlikely to be a threat to Sharif.
Things became sour between Sharif and Musharraf during the Kargil episode. Later, once a relative of Sharif was removed from the army by Musharraf, that was the final nail in the coffin. Sharif then decided to take his revenge and replace Gen. Musharraf with a fellow of his liking who would be controllable (the head of the ISI at the time).
Farhan Aslam also comments upon the ill-advised economic decisions of Sharif which made Pakistan’s situation from bad to worse. Moreover, he comments upon the Sharif family’s personal business empire and how it grew exponentially through questionable means. And business empire of Nawaz Sharif and Ishaq Dar is flourishing and sky is the limit where poor son in law Ali Dar son of Ishaq dar built his business small world after getting qarz e husna of 40 crore rupees from his father Ishaq Dar.