Pakistan's ousted prime minister Nawaz Sharif on Monday defended his recent remarks about the 2008 Mumbai terror attack, saying he will speak the truth no matter what the consequences are.
Sharif, for the first time, publicly acknowledged in an interview that terrorist organisations are active in Pakistan and questioned the policy to allow the "non-state actors" to cross the border and "kill" people in Mumbai.
Sharif's comments have stirred a controversy in Pakistan, prompting the country's National Security Committee (NSC) to call a high-level meeting and reject the statement as incorrect and misleading, also saying that it was unfortunate and regrettable that concrete evidence and facts were ignored in the ousted Pakistan PM's statement.
According to the NSC's statement, it was recalled during the meeting that the delay in conclusion of Mumbai attack case was caused by India, not Pakistan. "Besides many other refusals during the investigation, the denial of access to the principal accused, Ajmal Kasab, and his extraordinarily hurried execution became the core impediment in the finalisation of the trial," it said.
Sharif's response today on the controversy is contradictory to the stance taken by his party, the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz, whose president Shehbaz Sharif said yesterday that the party "rejects all claims made in the report, be they direct or indirect", Dawn newspaper reported.
"What did I say that was wrong in the interview?" 68-year-old Sharif asked while talking to reporters outside an accountability court in Islamabad, where he is facing corruption charges.
After the publication of Sharif's interview on Saturday, his party issued a clarification, saying that the Indian media had "grossly misinterpreted" his remarks.
Sharif today dispelled the notion that the comments were falsely attributed to him, saying that he will speak the truth come what may.
"Former president Pervez Musharraf, former interior minister Rehman Malik and former National Security Adviser Major-General (retd) Mehmood Durrani had already confirmed (what I said)," he added.
Nawaz Sharif regretted that those who ask questions are being termed traitors in the media.
"Despite our 50,000 sacrifices (of lives), why is the world not paying heed to our narrative? And the person who is asking this question has been labelled a traitor."
He also called out those local media outlets that had criticised his words. "I am being called a traitor on the media -- they (the media) are being made to call me a traitor."
"Are those who tore apart the country and the Constitution patriots? Are those who pulled out judges from their offices patriots?"
"Will speak the truth no matter what the consequences are," he said. When a reporter pointed to Sharif's acknowledgment of the presence of "non-state actors" in the country, his daughter Maryam, who was accompanying him, replied: "So then who was Zarb-i-Azb (military operation) conducted against?".
Operation Zarb-e-Azb was a joint military offensive conducted by the Pakistan Armed Forces against various militant group in 2014.
According to Dawn newspaper, differences within the ruling party surfaced following the issuance of contradictory statements by the Sharif brothers on the issue.