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Pakistan Ex-PM Sharif Accuses Army Of Political Interference

Former Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif arrives at a court in Lahore on corruption charges in October 2019.
Former Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif arrives at a court in Lahore on corruption charges in October 2019.

Pakistan’s ailing former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on October 1 accused the country's powerful military of political interference, saying in a televised speech from exile in London that the military had rigged the 2018 vote that brought the country's current prime minister to power.

The 70-year-old Sharif has had a long uneasy relationship with the military, with Thursday’s tirade the latest confrontation.

“I will never reconcile with those who violate the constitution by indulging in politics,” Sharif said, listing off ways he said the 2018 was rigged to bring Prime Minister Imran Khan to power. He said interfering in politics in uniform amounts to treason under the country’s constitution.

His allegations sparked an angry response from Khan, who in his own televised remarks on October 1 said Sharif was “playing a very dangerous game” by humiliating the military and intelligence services. He dismissed the allegations of rigged elections as baseless.

Sharif served as Pakistan’s prime minister three times, first removed by a president in 1993, then by military ruler Pervez Musharraf in 1999. A court in 2017 ousted him from power over corruption allegations. Khan, a former cricketer, came to power in 2018.

Sharif spoke from London, where he has been since last November when he was released on bail to seek medical treatment abroad. At the time, a court permitted Sharif to leave the country for four weeks, but he did not return. A court last month issued arrest warrants for Sharif, previously sentenced to seven years in prison on corruption and money laundering charges stemming from disclosures in the Panama Papers.

Sharif's remarks came days after Pakistan's opposition vowed to hold rallies in October to pressure Khan to resign.

Sharif was targeted by similar mass protests during his rule by Khan, who Thursday night refused to resign. Khan said he will not withdraw the corruption cases against Sharif.

Khan said his government will bring Sharif back from London through a court order.