Osama used to finance, support Nawaz Sharif, claims former ambassador

Last Updated 01 February 2021, 09:39 IST

Al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden had supported and funded ex-prime minister Nawaz Sharif, a former Pakistani diplomat who also served as a minister in the PML-N supremo's cabinet has alleged.

"Yes, he (Osama) supported Mian Nawaz Sharif at one time. However, that is a complicated story. He (Osama) used to extend financial assistance (to Sharif)," Pakistan's former envoy to the United States Abida Hussain claimed this during an interview to a private news channel, Geo TV reported.

Hussain, 73, also an ex-cabinet member of the Sharif government, recalled that at one time bin Laden was popular and liked by everyone including the Americans but at a later stage, he was treated as a stranger, the channel said.

She was apparently referring to the Soviet–Afghan War in 1980s during which bin Laden was fighting against the Soviet forces in Afghanistan alongside insurgent groups - known as the Mujahideen.

Bin Laden was killed by US Navy Seals in Pakistan's Abbottabad in May, 2011.

Last week, a lawmaker from the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf Party alleged that Sharif took USD 10 million from bin Laden to bring a no-confidence motion for overthrowing Benazir Bhutto’s government.

Referring to a book written by late premier Bhutto, Farrukh Habib said Sharif’s daughter and Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) Vice president Maryam Nawaz should read the book.

"It is written on page 201 that her father Nawaz Sharif laid the foundation of foreign funding in the country and used USD 10 million from Osama bin Laden to bring a no-confidence motion to overthrow Benazir’s government," he claimed on Thursday.

Sharif, 70, has been living in London since November 2019 after the Lahore High Court granted him permission to go abroad for four weeks for treatment.

The three-time former prime minister, who was convicted in two corruption cases -- Avenfield properties and Al-Azizia -- was declared a proclaimed offender in December by the Islamabad High Court after he failed to appear before it despite several warnings.

Sharif resigned as Pakistan prime minister in 2017 after the Supreme Court disqualified him from holding public office and ruled that graft cases be filed against the beleaguered leader over the Panama Papers scandal.

Hussain, who served as Pakistan's ambassador to the US between November 1919-April 1993, said she was appointed as an ambassador during the first premiership of Sharif after she lost the election.

During her stint as an envoy to the US, she said that most of her communication used to be with President Ghulam Ishaq Khan, who had tasked her to keep the Americans engaged in talks till Pakistan completes its nuclear program in 18 months.

The US administration including the diplomats, senators, and congressmen used to advise Pakistan against the execution of the nuclear program, she said.

Since the nuclear program was under the purview of the president, she said most of her conversations used to be with him, and not the prime minister.

(Published 31 January 2021, 16:59 IST)

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