PAKISTAN: Former prime minister is abducted and remains incommunicado in Saudi Arabia

Mr. Mian Nawaz Sharif, a former prime minister of Pakistan, was abducted on September 10, 2007 from Islamabad airport and put on a PIA flight bound for Saudi Arabia. He has since been kept incommunicado and his whereabouts remain unknown.

At the time of his abduction it was announced by the authorities in Saudi Arabia that he was being transferred to a house, where he had been held in 2000 for some years after making a deal with General Musharraf Government for his release. In this ‘shadowy’ deal Mr. Sharif reportedly agreed to stay out of Pakistan for a period of ten years and not involve himself with the political affairs of the country. However, a seven-member larger bench of the Supreme Court lead by Chief Justice Iftehkar Choudhry ruled on August 23, 2007 that Mian Nawaz Sharif and his brother Mian Shahbaz Sharif were Pakistanis and therefore liberty to return to their home country.

Since his arrival in Saudi Arabia his whereabouts have been kept secret. It is reported by his family and the media that his passport and other traveling documents were also confiscated by the Saudi Arabia authorities when his plane landed at the Jeddah airport. According to the terms of the earlier agreement with General Musharraf he will not allowed to talk to anyone for the next three years.

Mr. Nawaz Sharif, who was prime minister when General Musharraf imposed martial law of October 12, 1999 after taking over in a coup, was arrested at Islamabad airport after his arrival from London and was sent to Karachi, capital city of Sindh Province, but during the flight his air craft was diverted directly to Saudi Arabia without stopping at Karachi airport. This act from the government of General Musharraf is in open and blatant violation of the order of the larger bench of the Supreme Court of Pakistan who in its decision 2007, ordered that Mr. Nawaz Shareef be allowed to enter Pakistan without any restrictions as every citizen has the right to enter in his own country. The order of the government has no constitutional authority.

The former prime minister was held in custody by the authorities for four hours upon his arrival and was not allowed to consult with his lawyers. Before his arrival more than 2000 of his supporters were arrested along with some prominent leaders of the opposition parties. Furthermore, police used tear gas shells and baton charged the people who gathered to welcome their leader at Islamabad and Rawalpindi.

The arrangement between Pakistan and the Saudi Arabian authorities not to allow Mr. Sharif to enter in his own country, even after the Supreme Court’s decision, is in clear violation of the fundamental and basic rights of an individual to enter his or her country and to enjoy freedom of movement. The ultra vires actions of both countries are also against the all norms and ethics of international rules and laws. This arrangement cannot be termed as a bilateral agreement between two friendly countries, which does not respect an individual’s freedom to settle in his own country.

The interference of the government of Saudi Arabia in Pakistani politics is so visible that some days before Mr. Sharif’s arrival a two member delegation, headed by chief of the intelligence service of Saudi Arabia, arrived in Pakistan, addressed the media and met officials of the government including President General Musharraf himself to discuss the ways and means to prevent the entry of former prime minister in his own country.

The Asian Human Rights Commission condemns the abduction of former prime minister of Pakistan by force from the Islamabad airport and his being kept incommunicado in Saudi Arabia.

Both the governments of Saudi Arabia and Pakistan are in contempt of an order of the Supreme Court of Pakistan which has allowed Mr. Sharif to return to Pakistan and which very clearly mentioned that the government should not hinder his return.

The AHRC urges that the UN Human Rights Council should take cognizance of the abduction of a former prime minister by the governments of Pakistan and Saudi arabia. The international community should also take serious notice of this kidnapping of Mian Nawaz Shareef by a country who has no role in the affairs of another country. Saudi Arabia should be condemned at international level for interfering directly in the political affairs of Pakistan and abducting a former prime minister. The AHRC calls for Mr. Sharif’s release and repatriation to his home land.

Document Type : Statement
Document ID : AS-225-2007
Countries : Pakistan,