Islamabad: Returning to his country after an eight-year long exile, former Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif reminded followers that he was the one under whose regime the country became a nuclear power.
In an interview, the former premier also refuted charges that he was close to religious extremism, a charge that has been slapped on him. Saying he shuns extremism, he said, “Let me be clear: I have been codemning all sorts of terrorism, whether in Pakistan or outside Pakistan; we are moderates and we follow moderation and nothing except moderation.”
It was during his regime that the West went jittery over a nuclear-armed Pakistan having religious ideologues at the helm.
Sharif said he was disappointed over such remarks and said that other countries failed to take into account the cooperation that the country has so far extended to them in different ways.
Former US officials who know Sharif and analysts who follow Pakistan’s politics see a savvy politician in him who is far from being the religious extremist.
Readers will recall Sharif’s past associaton with Afghanstan’s repressive Taliban regime which was much talked about and his supporters in his Pakistan Muslim League capitalizing on a strong anti-Americn sentiment in Pakistan.
Speaking from atop a truck that carried him triumphantly through the streets of Lahore after his return to Pakistan on 25November, Sharif made the point that “I never took dictation” from the United States and that it was he who “made the country a nuclear power.”
However, his parting shot, “It is Musharraf who follows the dictates of the Bush administration” were not entirely unexpected!