Mian Nawaz Sharif was born in Lahore, Pakistan on December 25, 1949, one year after the new nation's founding. He came from a family of scrap traders. His father and uncles had a small steel business named as 'Ittefaq' in Landa Bazar Lahore before the creation of Pakistan. Sharif attended St. Anthony's School Lahore. However, he along with his younger brother Shahbaz Sharif later on attended Pakistan Railway High School, Moghalpura, Lahore and both of them passed Matric from this school in 1964 and 1965 respectively. Nawaz Sharif got addmission in the Government College of Lahore. He obtained his B.A. degree after appearing in the supplementary examination. He claimed that he passed his Bachelor of Law degree from the Punjab University Law College, also in Lahore. He, however session he attended is unknown. Nawaz Sharif is a joint owner of Ittefaq Group. Ittefaq Group is one of the largest business conglomerates in Pakistan. He helped establish the Ittefaq Islamic Academy in Lahore, where students receive religious instruction in addition to their secular training. A practicing Moslem, Sharif comes from a religious family and has said he would make the teaching of the Quraan, the Muslim Holy Book, a compulsory subject up to the secondary level. Like studies, Sharif was also interested in cricket as well. He did appear in one 1st class match from Pakistan Railway against Karachi in 1974 where he scored a 'duck'.
Sharif and his male cousins expanded their family iron foundry only to lose it to a 1972 nationalization policy launched by Prime Minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto. It was re-established in 1977 as Ittefaq Industries in Lahore. The business was returned after Sharif developed political links with President Mohammad Zia ul-Haq. It was General Zia who brought down Bhutto in 1977, executing him two years later on charges of conspiracy. By 1990, Ittefaq Industries was one of Pakistan's most affluent conglomerates, with more than $450 million in annual revenues, up from about $16 million in 1981. It included the country's largest private steel mill, Ittefaq Foundries (Pvt) Ltd, eight sugar mills, and four textile factories. Sharif's net worth is around US$ 4 billion, considered as one of the wealthiest individual. With upwards of hundred thousand employees, Ittefaq has played a significant role in the development and growth of industry in Pakistan. It has likely influenced Sharif's political career and pro-business stance as well.
His political career started in Punjab during the tenure of President Mohammed Zia-ul-Haq. He initially joined as a member of the Punjab Advisory Council. Under the provincial government of Punjab in 1981, he served as the Minister of Finance with additional charge of Minister of Sports. During his tenure, he was credited with increasing funding for sports activities and rural projects. He is married Kulsoom Nawaz.
Chief Minister of Punjab
He served as Chief Minister of Punjab, the most populous province of Pakistan, for two consecutive terms.His term started on April 9, 1985 and continued until May 31, 1988, when Zia-ul-Haq dissolved the assemblies. Following this, he was appointed as the Caretaker Chief Minister and he held on to that position up to August 13, 1990. For his vast development and uplift commoners cheered at him proudly calling him Sher-e- Punjab (Lion of Punjab).
First Time Prime Minister
Sharif first became Prime Minister on 1 November 1990, running on a conservative platform and vowing to end to corruption. During his first term, Sharif focused on improving the infrastructure of the country, and introduced digital telecommunication in the country for the first time. He privatised government banks which opened the gate not only for private banks but also privatisation of government industry. This course was even followed by Benazir Bhutto, whose father Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto had nationalized Pakistani industry during his tenure as Prime Minister (1973–1977).
For the first time in the history of Pakistan, he also allowed foreign money exchange to be transacted through private money exchangers. Before that one could have bought foreign exchange only from government bank not exceeding the amount of 1000 USD. This was of immense benefit to the common people as a high percentage of the population has relatives living abroad and usually also receive remittances from abroad.
His government was sacked on 18 April 1993, when President Ghulam Ishaq Khan used the reserve powers vested in him by the Eighth Amendment to dissolve the National Assembly on charges of corruption, nepotism, extrajudicial killings, taking political revenge and victimisation of opponents, appointing Mir Balakh Sher Mazari as the caretaker prime minister. Six weeks later, the Supreme Court of Pakistan ruled that the Presidential order was unconstitutional, reconstituted the National Assembly and returned Sharif to power on 26 May. The Pakistan Army stepped in asking Sharif to resign, but negotiated a settlement that resulted in Sharif and President Ghulam Ishaq Khan resigning on 18 July 1993. Moin Qureshi became caretaker prime minister, and was succeeded shortly thereafter by Benazir Bhutto who was elected to office on 19 October 1993.
Sharif was re-elected Prime Minister in 1997.
In August 1997, Sharif signed the Anti-Terrorist Act which established Anti Terrorism Courts (ATC). The act was judged in 1998 unconstitutional by the Supreme Court (Merham Ali vs Pakistan).
U.S. Defense Secretary, William S. Cohen, with Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, at the Pentagon, 3 December 1998.
. Hence in 2009, Pakistan's Supreme Court announced that they would hear petitions seeking the prosecution of Nawaz Sharif for the murder of Major Khalid Saeed Orakzai.
Attack on the Supreme Court
During Sharif's second tenure in November 1997, Pakistan grappled with its worst-ever constitutional crisis when an unruly mob upon the directions of Nawaz Sharif stormed into the supreme court, forcing Chief Justice Sajjad Ali Shah to adjourn the contempt of court case against Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. Hundreds of PML(N) supporters and members of its youth wing, the Muslim Students Front (MSF), breached the police cordon around the courthouse when defence lawyer S.M. Zafar was arguing his case.
A journalist rushed into the courtroom and warned the bench of an impending attack. Whereupon, the chief justice got up abruptly, thanked Zafar and adjourned the hearing. While judicial members left the courtroom soon after, the mob entered it shouting slogans, and damaged furniture.
The unruly mob, led by ruling party member from Punjab Sardar Naseem and Colonel (retired) Mushtaq Tahir Kheli, Sharif's political secretary, chanted slogans against the chief justice. Famous PTV anchor Tariq Aziz threw and broke the portrait of the founder of Pakistan Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah. The mob also beat up Pakistan Peoples Party senator Iqbal Haider. The police managed to restore normalcy after baton charging and teargassing the mob, both inside and outside the courthouse. The court which assembled at 9:45 a.m., could continue the proceedings for only about 45 minutes.
Relations with the military
Nawaz Sharif principally rose to prominence as a staunch proponent of the military government of President Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq during the 1980s, especially maintaining ties with Lieutenant General Jilani and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee Rahimuddin Khan. His political career was further facilitated by the military's tilt towards his right-wing inclinations. Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) Director-General Hamid Gul played a substantial role in the formation of the Islami Jamhoori Ittehad, the conservative political alliance that brought Sharif to power in 1990.
Naseerullah Babar, the Interior Minister in the PPP government had disclosed in the National Assembly in 1994 how the ISI had disbursed a lot of money to purchase the loyalty of various right wing politicians, including that of Nawaz Sharif and public figures, in order to manipulate the 1990 elections, form the Islamic Jamhoori Ittehad (IJI- Pakistan democratic alliance), and bring about the defeat of the PPP.
In 1996, Air Marshal Asghar Khan filed a human rights petition in the Supreme Court against the former chief of army staff and the former chief of the Inter-Services Intelligence, and a banker concerning the criminal distribution of the people's money for political purposes (HRC 19/96). In this case, Lt General Naseerullah Babar filed an affidavit in court supported by copies of various documents. The case is pending in the Supreme Court of Pakistan.
During Sharif's first term as prime minister, he fell out with three successive army chiefs: with General Mirza Aslam Beg over the 1991 Gulf War issue, with General Asif Nawaz over the Sindh "Operation Clean-Up" issue, and with General Abdul Waheed Kakar over the Sharif-Ishaq Imbroglio.
During his second tenure, he fell out with two other generals: General Karamat over the National Security Council, and later with General Musharraf when Nawaz did not allow an airplane carrying 180 passengers to land.
It was under Abdul Waheed Kakar that Nawaz Sharif along with the then President of Pakistan Ghulam Ishaq Khan were forced to resign in 1992-93. At the end of General Waheed’s three-year term in January 1996, General Jehangir Karamat was appointed army chief. His term was due to end on 9 January 1999. In October 1998, however, Sharif fell out with General Karamat over the latter’s advocacy of the need for the creation of a "National Security Council". Sharif believed this to be a conspiracy to return the military to a more active role in Pakistani politics. Before that Sharif dismissed the Chief of Naval Staff Admiral Mansur Ul Haq.
In October 1998, General Karamat resigned and Sharif appointed General Pervez Musharraf as army chief. General Jehangir Karamat was seen by many as a straight person who compromised himself and stood for the wishes of the Prime Minister. Sharif later regreted appointing Pervez Musharraf to the Chief of Army position, as Musharraf led a coup to topple Sharif's government.
Both Nisar Khan, a Nawaz league leader whose brother was defence secretary, and Shehbaz Sharif claim they arranged Musharraf's appointment. Nisar was later interned.
1998 Pakistan's nuclear tests
Pakistan's nuclear tests were perhaps an important turning point in Sharif's political career. Pakistan carried out its successful nuclear tests on 28 May 1998, and on 30 May 1998, in response to the Indian detonation of five nuclear devices roughly two weeks before. When India tested its nuclear arsenal a second time, it caused a great alarm in Pakistan. It goes to Nawaz Sharif's credit that he resisted immense pressure personally by the then President of the USA, Bill Clinton, which also included a hefty amount transfer offer in Nawaz Sharif's personal account. He held a secret meeting with Pakistani nuclear scientists and it was decided there to conduct country's first nuclear tests. Nawaz also high-alerted Pakistan Armed Forces in order to defend country's nuclear installations.
On 28 May 1998, the Nawaz government justified the tests on national security grounds, as they demonstrated Pakistan's nuclear deterrent capabilities against an armed Indian nuclear program. Under Nawaz Sharif's leadership, Pakistan became the first Islamic country and seventh nation to become a nuclear power.
The Nawaz Government proclaimed an emergency on the same day as these nuclear tests were conducted. All fundamental rights were suspended and all the foreign currency accounts in Pakistani banks were frozen to minimize the effects of economic sanctions. This move was not welcomed by all sections of depositors and further deteriorated the investors' and people's confidence.
The Lahore Declaration
In 1999, Nawaz Sharif met with Indian Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee at the Wagah border and a joint communique, known as the Lahore Declaration, was signed between the two leaders.
Nawaz Sharif was Prime Minister during the Kargil War in 1999. Sharif claimed to have no knowledge of the planned attacks, saying that Pervez Musharraf acted alone. In 2009, however, a former Pakistani military official came forward and stated that Nawaz Sharif not only knew about the plans beforehand, but gave tacit approval for them.
Proposition of an Islamic society based on the Quran
On 29 August 1998 then Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif proposed a law to create an Islamic order in Pakistan and establish a legal system based on the Quran and the Sunnat. Sharif told Pakistanis that the proposed Shariat Bill was a charter of duties and not power. This came a week after Sharif informally announced the measure during the commemoration the late President Zia ul-Haq's 10-year death anniversary on 17 August. On 8 October 1998 Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif presented the Shariat Bill in the National Assembly. The Cabinet decided to present the bill on 9 October, after removing some of its controversial aspects. Had he succeeded, the existing civil code would have been replaced by the Sharia, and Nawaz Sharif would have been declared the Amir-ul-Momineen, or Commander of the Faithful, an archaic caliphate-era title that would have given him absolute power.
The Pakistani government approved and passed the bill on 10 October 1998. After the vote, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif said: "I congratulate the nation on the passage of the bill which will help create a truly Islamic system". The amendment, which was passed by the National Assembly by 151 votes to 16, was then passed to the upper house of parliament for a final vote. Two-thirds majority was needed for passage in the Senate, the upper chamber. On 16 January 1999 the Nawaz Sharif Government imposed Islamic law in the traditional tribal areas of the north-west straddling the Pakistan-Afghanistan border, vowing to impose it throughout the country. However, the amendment failed in the senate and before Nawaz Sharif recovered from that setback, his government was summarily dismissed by a military coup.
Allegations of connections to Osama Bin Laden
Former Inter-Services Intelligence officer Khalid Khwaja alleged that he arranged meetings between Nawaz Sharif and Al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden three times in Saudi Arabia where he received financial and political support.
Ali Mohamed, a former aide to Osama bin Laden, told former FBI agent and ABC News consultant Jack Cloonan that he helped arrange a meeting between bin Laden and representatives of Nawaz Sharif. Mohamed claims that after the meeting he delivered $1 million to Sharif’s representatives as a tribute to Sharif for "not cracking down on the Taliban as it flourished in Afghanistan and influenced the Northwest Frontier Province".
Sharif is alleged by the Supreme Court of Pakistan to have ordered the 1997 murder of Maj Khalid Saeed Orakzai to prevent his brother Shahid Orakzai from exposing Sharif's involvement in political kickbacks.