ISLAMABAD: Though ousted Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif is certain of his arrest on his return to the country, the former premier said still he was returning so that he could pay back the Pakistani nation for what they had done for him: making him the prime minister thrice.
On the other hand, the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) is making all efforts to give a rousing welcome to him and his daughter Maryam Nawaz on their arrival in Lahore on Friday, Pakistan daily The Dawn reported on Thursday.
PML-N president Shahbaz Sharif, on Wednesday, spent a busy day meeting workers in various areas of Lahore and mobilising them for the welcome rally planned at the Allama Iqbal International Airport to receive their leader, come what may.
Speaking at a party conference in the ballroom of the Grosvenor House Hotel in central London's Mayfair district, Nawaz Sharif said, "Despite seeing the bars of prison in front of my eyes, I am going to Pakistan.
He said he was returning to the country so that he could pay back the Pakistani nation for what they had done for him: making him prime minister three times. Later while talking to journalists, the former premier said he wished he could address his supporters at the Lahore airport.
"I ask the people, especially women, to come out of their homes like tigers, and cross all barricades to reach the Lahore airport. No one can stop a mass gathering of the people," he said, adding that no one had ever gotten freedom on a platter, because it demands sacrifice.
"Maryam and I are coming back to face prison and even if they send me to the gallows, we know that freedom cannot be won without sacrifice. It is not easy to leave my wife on a ventilator in a hospital but I am returning along with my daughter to play our role to rid of this slavery," he announced.
Mr Sharif said: "We used to hear about 'a state within a state' but now things have gone to the extent that there's 'a state above the state'. We will have to change this. July 25 will be a defining moment in the country's history after August 14, 1947 (Independence Day)."
"The people's verdict can change the 70-year-old course of the country and ensure their freedoms. The July 25 polls will be a referendum in which every Pakistani will have to decide whether they wanted to become a part of this dangerous game or make Pakistan the country Quaid-i-Azam had hoped it would be," he said.
He said "certain people" did not respect civilian supremacy. "They have been throwing out elected prime ministers for the last 70 years. Going by our history, a premier is sent to the gallows (Z. A. Bhutto), another is shot dead (Benazir Bhutto) and another (Nawaz) is forced into exile.
What was their crime? Had they committed treason?" he asked.
On the other hand, he said a military dictator (Gen Musharraf) who had abrogated the Constitution and sent judges behind bars was still free.
No one had the courage to bring him back and try him for his misdeeds, he said.