Mian Muhammad Nawaz Sharif (Urdu: نواز شریف, pronounced [nəˈʋaːz ʃəˈriːf]; born 25 December 1949) is a Pakistani politician and industrialist who served as the 12th Prime Minister of Pakistan for two non-consecutive terms from November 1990 to July 1993 and from February 1997 to October 1999, and won re-election as Prime Minister in May, 2013. He is currently President of Pakistan Muslim League-N, one of Pakistan’s largest political parties and major opposition party. As the owner of Ittefaq Group, a leading business conglomerate, he is also one of the country’s wealthiest men.
Sharif rose to prominence as part of General Zia-ul-Haq‘s military regime in the 1980s under the wing of Governor of Punjab Ghulam Jilani Khan. He was appointed Chief Minister of Punjab by Zia in 1985. After Zia’s death and Benazir Bhutto’s being elected Prime Minister in 1988, Sharif emerged as opposition leader from the conservative Pakistan Muslim League. When Benazir was dismissed by President Ghulam Ishaq Khan in 1990 on corruption charges, Sharif was elected Prime Minister the same year. But relations between Sharif and Ghulam Ishaq too deteriorated, with Ghulam Ishaq attempting to dismiss Sharif on similar charges. Sharif successfully challenged the President’s decision in the Supreme Court, but both men were ultimately persuaded to step down in 1993 by army chief Abdul Waheed Kakar.
Serving as the Leader of the Opposition during Benazir’s second tenure, Sharif was re-elected Prime Minister with a historic two-thirds majority in parliament, after Benazir was again dismissed for corruption by new President Farooq Leghari. Sharif replaced Leghari with Rafiq Tarar as President, then stripped the Presidency of its powers by passing the Thirteenth Amendment. He also controversially ordered Pakistan’s first nuclear tests in response to neighbouring India‘s second nuclear tests. When Western countries suspended foreign aid, Sharif froze the country’s foreign currency reserves to prevent further capital flight, but this only worsened economic conditions.
With rising unemployment and record foreign debt, Sharif’s second term also saw tussles with the judiciary and army. After Sharif was summoned for contempt by the Supreme Court in 1997, party workers attacked the court and Chief Justice Syed Sajjad Ali Shah. Sharif also fell out with army chief Jehangir Karamat and replaced him with Pervez Musharraf in 1998, but after Pakistan’s haphazard performance in the Kargil War, relations between the two also deteriorated. When he attempted to relieve Musharraf from his command on 12 October 1999, the army instead ousted Sharif’s government, exiling him to Saudi Arabia.
Sharif returned in 2007, and his party contested elections in 2008, forming the provincial government in Punjab under Sharif’s brother Shahbaz until 2013. He successfully called for Musharraf’s impeachment and the reinstatement of Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry.
Early life and education
Nawaz Sharif was born in the upper-middle class Sharif family in Ratta, Azad Kashmir administered area of Pakistan on 25 December 1949. His father, Muhammad Sharif, was an upper middle-class businessman and industrialist who had migrated from Amritsar district to Pakistan during the 1947 Indian partition. His family is of Kashmiri–Punjabi origin. His father followed the teachings of the Ahl al-Hadith. His family owns Ittefaq Group, a multimillion dollar steel conglomerate. His brother Shahbaz Sharif is the incumbent Chief Minister of Punjab province while his nephew Hamza Shahbaz Sharif is a member of the National Assembly. And his daughter Maryam Nawaz is also in politics and a leader of his party.
He went to Saint Anthony High School. He graduated from the Government College University, Lahore with an art and business degree and then received a law degree from the University of Punjab. He is married to Kalsoom Nawaz Sharif.
Nawaz Sharif started his political career during the time of nationalisation policy of former Prime minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto. The Sharif family was financially devastated after discovering that the family steel business was lost into the hands of the government, and Sharif jumped into national politics soon after. In 1976, Sharif politically motivated himself and joined the Pakistan Muslim League, a conservative front rooted from Punjab Province, initially focused to regain the control of his steel industry from the hands of Bhutto’s government. In May 1980 Ghulam Jilani Khan, the recently-appointed Governor of the Punjab Province and a former Director-General of the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), initiated a search for new urban leaders, and Sharif was one of the men he found and promoted, quickly making him Finance Minister of the Punjab. In 1981, Sharif joined the Punjab Advisory Board under General Zia-ul-Haq and principally rose to public and political prominence as a staunch proponent of the military government of General Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq during the 1980s.
He maintained close relations with the Zia-ul-Haq, who soon agreed to return to him his private steel mill which had been lost during the wave of nationalisation by Zulfikar Ali Bhutto. Sharif maintained an alliance with General Rahimuddin Khan, who was Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee. During his political career, Sharif also had close ties with the Director-General of ISI, Lieutenant-General (retired) Hamid Gul, who played a substantial role in the formation of the Islami Jamhoori Ittehad – a conservative political alliance that supported Sharif.
Sharif also invested a large capital in the Saudi Arabia and the rich oil Arab and Middle east countries to restart his steel empire. According to the personal accounts and his time spent with Sharif, American historian Stephen Philips Cohen maintained in the “Idea of Pakistan“, that: ” Nawaz Sharif never forgive Bhutto after his steel empire was lost into the hands of Bhutto; and even after his terrible end, Sharif publicly refused to forgive the soul of Bhutto and the Pakistan Peoples Party.” After coming into the national power in 1990, Sharif took out the revenge on Zulfikar Bhutto after launching the Privatization programme and economic liberalisation in a direct response to Zulfikar Bhutto and the Pakistan Peoples Party. Sharif finally paid the revenge back on Zulfikar Bhutto after daughter Benazir Bhutto, after she became Prime minister in 1993.
Punjab Advisory Council
In 1981, he initially joined as a member of the Punjab Advisory Council under General Ghulam Jilani Khan, the Governor of the Province. Since his early career, Sharif has been a strong vocal of capitalism and strongly opposed its inverse, the nationalisation. In 1980s, Sharif gained influence on General Zia-ul-Haq who had previously agreed to return his steel industry to him, convincing the General to denationalise and deregulate the industries in order to improve the economy. Under the Military government of Lieutenant-General Ghulam Jilani Khan, Sharif was appointed as the provisional finance minister and successfully attempted to denationalise all of the government-owned industries to private sector.
As provincial finance minister, he presented development-oriented budgets to the military government. As Finance minister, Sharif gained prominence and fame in Punjab Province which also extended the rule of General Ghulam Jillani, as he improved the law and order situation in Punjab Province. Financial policies drafted and approved by Sharif, who was backed by General Zia, Punjab Province benefited with the better financial capital and purchasing power of Punjab Province’s locals were greatly and exponentially improved. Punjab Province having Sharif as Finance minister, received many funds by the federal government than any other provinces of Pakistan, which also contributed in economical inequality between Punjab Province and other provinces. Due to its huge financial capital in 1980s, Punjab Province was Pakistan’s richest province and Punjab Province’s better standard of living comparing to other provinces.
Chief Minister of Punjab
In 1985 General Ghulam Jilani Khan nominated Sharif as Chief Minister of the Punjab, against the wishes of the new prime minister, Muhammad Khan Junejo, who wanted a rural candidate, Malik Allahyar. Sharif secured the landslide victory during the non-political parties 1985 elections and became Chief Minister of Punjab with the support of the army. He served for two consecutive terms as Chief Minister of Punjab Province, the most populous province of Pakistan. Because of his vast popularity, he received the nickname “Lion of the Punjab”. As chief minister, he stressed welfare and development activities and the maintenance of law and order.
The provincial martial law Administrator of Punjab Province, Lieutenant-General Ghulam Jilani Khan sponsored the government of Nawaz Sharif, and Sharif built his ties with the senior army generals who would remain supportive and sponsored Sharif’s ministerial ship. General Jilani Khan made much headway in beautifying Lahore, extending military infrastructure, and muting political opposition, while Sharif maintained the law and order in the province, expanded the economical infrastructure that not only benefited and also the people of Punjab province. In 1985, General Zia dismissed the government of hand-picked Prime minister Muhammad Khan Junejo, and called for new elections. However, with all the provisional and the national assemblies were dissolved, General Zia-ul-Haq retained Sharif as the Chief Minister of Punjab Province, and continued Sharif’s support until his death and the elections were held in 1988.
On 7 November 1990, the newly elected prime minister announced his nuclear policy and in public television, Sharif responded that: “The peaceful [atomic] programme of which… it would be accelerated to accommodate growing [nuclear] [e]nergy needs and to make up for rising [oil] prices. And, of course, (Pakistan) will to construct new nuclear power plants. On 26 November, Sharif authorised talks with the U.S. to solve the nuclear crises after the U.S. had tightened its embargo on Pakistan, prompting Sharif to send his government’s Treasure Minister Sartaj Aziz to held talks on Washington. It was widely reported in Pakistan that the U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Teresita Schaffer had told the Foreign Minister Shahabzada Yaqub Khan to halt the uranium enrichment programme.
In December, France’s Commissariat à l’énergie atomique agreed to provide a commercial 900MW power plant, but plans did not materialise as France wanted Pakistan to provide entire financial funds for the plant. On December, the financial embargo was placed and the country’s economy felt a distress that prompted Sharif to replace his Treasure minister. Sharif then used Munir Ahmad Khan to have convinced IAEA to allow Pakistan for a nuclear plant in Chashman where Khan intensively lobbied in IAEA for the nuclear power plant. In December 1990, IAEA allowed Pakistan to established CHASNUPP-I, signed with China; the IAEA also gave approval of upgrading of the KANUPP-I in 1990. During his first term, Sharif intensified his non-nuclear weapon policy and strictly followed the policy of deliberate nuclear ambiguity which was also continued by Benazir as well. Responding to U.S. embargo, Sharif publicly announced that: “Pakistan possessed no [atomic] bomb… Pakistan would be happy to sign the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) but it must be provided “first” to India to do the same.
Sharif intensified his move to enhance the Pakistan’s integrated nuclear development and authorised projects that seemed to be important in his point of views. Sharif also promoted the peaceful nuclear energy programme, and signed the CHASNUPP-I reactor with People’s Republic of China for the commercial electricity use. Sharif also responded to use the nuclear development in more of economical usage, benefited for the country’s economy and its extension to the civil society. His policies to make the nuclear program for economical use was also continued by Benazir Bhutto and Pervez Musharraf.
Co-operatives societies scandal
Sharif also lost from support the Punjab Province and Kashmir Province as well when the co-operatives societies scandal became public. Co-operatives societies accept deposits from members and can legally make loans only to members for purposes that are to the benefit of the society and its members. However, mismanagement of these societies led to a collapse in which millions of Pakistanis lost money in 1992. In Sharif’s native Punjab Province and the Kashmir Province, around 700,000 people mostly poor people lost all their savings when the states cooperatives societies went bankrupt. It was soon discovered that the society had granted billions of rupees to the Ittefaq Group of Industries— Sharif’s owned Steel mill. Though Ittefaq Group’s management hurriedly repaid the loans to the affectees, but the Prime minister’s reputation was severely damaged.
1993 Constitutional Crises
In 1993, Sharif survived a serious constitutional crises when it was reported that Sharif developed serious issues over the authority with another national conservative president Ghulam Ishaq Khan. Before 1993 Parliamentary election, President Ghulam Ishaq Khan on 18 April 1993, with the support of the Pakistan Army, used his reserve powers (58-2b) (See 8th Amendment) to dissolve the National Assembly, the lower house. Khan appointed Mir Balakh Scher as the interim prime minister. When the news reached to Sharif, he forcefully rejected to accept this act and moved to Supreme Court of Pakistan, an apex court in Pakistan. In 26 May 1993, Sharif returned to power after the Supreme Court ruled that the Presidential Order as unconstitutional and reconstituted the National Assembly on its immediate effect. The Court ruled, 10–1, that the president could dissolve the assembly only if a constitutional breakdown had occurred and that the government’s incompetence or corruption was irrelevant.
End of First Term
However, issues with the president over the authority circled and a subsequent political stand off was instigated between president and Prime minister. Finally, on July 1993, Sharif resigned under pressure from the Pakistan Armed Forces but negotiated a settlement that resulted in the removal of president Ghulam Ishaq Khan as well. In July 1993, Chief of Army Staff General Abdul Vahied Kakar and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee General Shamim Allam forced president Ishaq Khan to resign from the presidency and subsequently ended the political standoff. Under the close scrutiny of the Pakistan Armed Forces, the new interim and transitional government was formed and new parliamentary election were held after three months.
Parliamentary opposition (1993–96)
New elections were held in the year of 1993 and the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), under Benazir Bhutto, returned to power for the third time. Sharif conceded defeat and offered his full co-operation as Leader of the Opposition but soon the PPP and PML-N again came at loggerheads in the Parliament. Benazir’s government found it difficult to act effectively in the face of opposition from Sharif. Benazir Bhutto also faced problems with her younger brother, Murtaza Bhutto, in her stronghold, Sindh Province.
Sharif joined with Benazir’s younger brother Murtaza Bhutto and formed a political axis that worked tirelessly to undermine Benazir Bhutto’s government and tapped an anti-corruption wave in entire Pakistan. The Nawaz-Bhutto axis targeted the Benazir Bhutto’s government corruption in major state corporations and blamed Benazir’s government for slowing down the economic progress. In 1994 to 1995, Sharif with Murtaza Bhutto began a “Train March”, a phenomenon founded by Zulfikar Ali Bhutto,taking them from Karachi to Peshawar during which huge crowds listened to their critical speeches. Sharif played a major part in organising labour and industrial strikes throughout Pakistan in September and October 1994. following the controversial death of Murtaza Bhutto in 1996, amid protests and spontaneous demonstrations in Sindh Province had led the Benazir’s government losing control of the province. By 1996, Benazir Bhutto had become widely unpopular, in entire Pakistan, because of her high levels of government corruption and alleged involvement of her spouse role in her younger brother’s death which led to their ouster in October 1996.
Wealth and conglomerates
The industrialisation of the country was bestowed under the watchful eyes of the president Ayub Khan during the most of the 1960s. The industrial sector was destroyed by the nationalisation program of prime minister Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, in an attempt to secure the capital flight of country’s investment to Eastern Europe. This program included the encroachment of Itefaq Group and many other large industries by Bhutto government Although the steel mill was returned in 1980 to Sharif family, but a havoc was already done by the nationalisation policy of the prime minister Bhutto.
In 2005, Daily Pakistan reported that Sharif family is the fourth wealthiest family and second wealthiest political leaders in Pakistan with an estimated net worth of US$ 1.4 billion. The Sharif family is intensively playing their role in the industrial growth of the country and expanding the steel business empire by employing state-of-the-art technology in their steel business in Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and Middle east.