A week after his disqualification, former prime minister Nawaz Sharif invited two dozen journalists and media moguls, including this scribe, to convey his thoughts and future actions to all and sundry. One word described him: Defiance. The palatial Punjab House in the foothills of Margallas had a huge hustle and bustle on a quiet late morning of Saturday, something very unusual in the sleepy town of Islamabad, especially over the weekend. The only lull used to be broken was by former interior minister Chaudhry Nisar who would hold the court on Sunday evenings to hit the headlines through his long winding press conferences. He now has been effectively sidelined by Ahsan Iqbal, known as the “professor”. The newly inducted powerful ministers awaited journalists, received them and ushered them to the meeting room. The former premier shook every hand before settling in for the turkey talk as his protégé and heir apparent Maryam Nawaz Sharif and trusted lieutenant Pervaiz Rasheed and Ahsan Iqbal stood by. Flanked by party Chairman Raja Zafarulhaq, he sat down and briefly repeated what he has gone through since Friday, July 28, when a five-member bench of the apex court brought his premiership to a halt and let him high and dry for the third time. Nawaz Sharif spoke in an anguished tone telling the tale how he was wronged by the Supreme Court for not declaring the “receivable income” from the company in UAE owned by one of his sons. “When I received money from my son, they had a problem with it. When I didn’t receive one, they had a problem with that too,” quipped the senior politician. Asked why he didn’t fulfil the spirit of the Charter of Democracy despite the help he got from the opposition during the PTI siege of parliament in 2014, he sought the help of the past narrating how he didn’t sign the NRO with General Musharraf during his exile period and how he gave a warm send off to outgoing president Asif Zardari. When pressed, he praised the stance taken by Mian Raza Rabbani and said he still believed in the Charter of Democracy and would like to finish the unfinished agenda of the charter. “We cried when Pakistan broke up in 1971. Dictators have destroyed this country. Look what they did to Akbar Bugti. Has any court made dictators accountable like us, the politicians?” he asked, beaming in a defiant tone. “Runaway Musharraf has the nerve to defend dictatorship hiding overseas. He has no courage to return, face the law of the land and dare to say that on our soil,” he threw the gauntlet to the former army chief who toppled him in 1999. The third-time prime minister knows the sword of Damocles hanging over his head and did try to put the best spin on the NAB references that are about to hound him. “History is in the making. NAB law is all about embezzlement and corruption related to public money. For the first time, the private businesses of my family will be tried in NAB courts,” complained the anguished former premier. Despite his declared defiance, his demeanour is now controlled, measured and calibrated as he ages. The native planned to return on Sunday morning via famous GT Road but was advised to take the motorway instead due to security risks. Some journos advised him in the huddle to reconsider the motorway plans and use the GT Road going through the heartland of Punjab. Reconsider, he did. Just a couple of hours after the meeting, he announced to change his plans again. GT Road it is on Wednesday morning. Published in Daily Times, August 6th 2017.