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Thursday, 23 March, 2000, 14:14 GMT
Is it right to censor Nawaz Sharif?

The trial of ousted Prime Minister of Pakistan, Nawaz Sharif, has become embroiled in a row between defence lawyers and the prosecution over reporting restrictions imposed on Mr Sharif's testimony.

Pakistan in crisis
Are the defence right to protest at the restrictions imposed on Mr Sharif's right to speak?

Or is there a danger Mr Sharif may make statements which could endanger Pakistan's security as the prosecution allege?

I think it is highly advisable to censor his rhetoric, which is likely to be damaging to the national security of the country.

Mukhtar Ali, Pakistan
I am not at all proud of the deposed PM, for whom my family voted. A leader is tested when he is under trying conditions. Mr Sharif complained of the lack of mineral water in the jail, whereas he should have spoken of something befitting of twice a ruler of Pakistan.
I think it is highly advisable to censor his rhetoric, which is likely to be damaging to the national security of the country. Instead of owning up the illegal order he gave, he is most likely to exaggerate the "strategic differences" he might have with the Army Chief. And above all there is no question of discussion here, it is for the Pakistanis to make and implement their laws. Outsiders should mind their own business.
Mukhtar Ali, Pakistan

Anyone noticed how the Indians will automatically jump on the bandwagon when it is something against Pakistan as a nation, they are all supporting Sharif now! Funny but True!
Zafar, England

Nawaz Sharif's statements should definitely be censored; his words may carry much more than should be revealed to the world and are different from those of the prosecution witnesses, who were just simple officials in the police and the airports. Of course, he should be allowed to say anything in-camera, but the court should decide which parts should be kept from disclosure to the public.
Zeeshan Amin, USA

I think he should speak out¿rather be allowed to speak. Then only all the dirty linen of Musharraf & Co will be known to the public at large
Arun, USA

I think this is the real test of their (Sharif's counsels) professionalism. They should keep on defending their client no matter what apprehensions they have in their minds. I know it's a long debate and there is no end to it, but still I want to ask these people who are living in the ideal world that what system are they advocating? Why do we always go for short cuts? How do systems evolve?
Do systems evolve or are they the by-products of self imposed dictators like Pervaiz Musharraf? I am not saying that NS is an angel who has done nothing wrong but for the last 15 years we were definitely going through the cleansing process.
Salman Hussain, Pakistan

I think the guy should be given a chance to speak his mind. Overall the trial has been just and fair and proves beyond doubt how Nawaz Sharif, single-handedly tried to destroy every Pakistani institution and assume the role of a One Man rule. He will go down in history as one of the most corrupt people Pakistan has ever known.
Salman Raza, USA

The question is not that whether he is guilty or not. It is whether a person who is being tried in court of law be given the chance of speaking for himself. How can the common person decide whether Nawaz Sharif is wrong or not if he does not listen to both sides of story.
SO in my view the Nawaz should be given full chance to express himself. I just cannot understand how some of you who say that he destroyed the judicial system preach about JUSTICE when you are not giving him justice
Usman Ali, USA

Nobody is going to believe Mr Nawaz Sharif. He was and he is a danger to National security of Pakistan. Pakistani don't believe him because when he was in power, he behaved like King and thought Pakistan was his Kingdom. Now, when he is jail, he is talking about democracy. I believe he should be punished without any wastage of time
Ali, USA

It is not fair to censor Nawaz Sharief. Absolutely not. What chance does a person have of getting a fair trial if he's not provided a transparent, accountable forum? Mr. Sharif's life itself might be at risk here. He might as well write his own death sentence if the public and the world at large is not allowed to hear what he has to say.
Vineet Thapar, USA

It is very clear to me that, being the PM of Pakistan before Oct 12, it was within Sharif's power to dismiss the army chief. So the question is, did Sharif tried to divert the plane with the intent of harming the passengers? I'm not sure how Sharif's defence to this charge could include any thing that will endanger Pakistan's national security!!
So I think censoring Sharif is to deny justice. And Mr CEO of Pakistan, please stop telling the world that you stepped in to prevent corrupt Sharif from destroying Pakistan. It was well known that Sharif was corrupt for years. But you acted only when your own position was under fire.
Biswajit Tripathy, USA/India

Nawaz Sharif a "Naughty Boy" Who treated institutions of the country like toys and destroyed them for his pleasure. So he should be treated like a "Naughty Boy" hands tied mouth taped to save others from his mischief.
Ijaz Mirza, Canada

Yes I think the state has every right to safeguard its national interests but that doesn't mean Mr Sharif should not be allowed to make his view point clear.
However he is a politician and we as Pakistanis know what our politicians and so called 'LEADERS' are capable of doing, they wont take a minute to put aside national interests if that's what serves them, so I think it's fair to censor his comments.
Jauhar Ismail, US

Every time a Prime Minister is sworn in, He takes a vow of secrecy, and can be charged for breaking that. Understanding this, Nawaz Sharif will never say something stupid. Censoring him will only prove that prosecution is trying to hide something.
Jee, India

PM Nawaz Sharif has the right to represent himself or through a lawyer. If he does not have a lawyer to represent him then one should be appointed for him by the court. I guess one is innocent unless proven guilty.
Ayaz Samadani M.D., USA

It's obvious that Nawaz Sharif has been checkmated by Musharaff. If President Clinton is serious about bringing peace to the sub-continent, he should end the 50-year-old war between the political and military establishments in Pakistan.
Tvarad, USA

Nawaz Sharif and Benazir's so called elected and democratic governments in Pakistan were a democracy defined as a government, BY THE PEOPLE, FOR THE PEOPLE and OF THE PEOPLE. He still must be allowed to say anything relevant to this case but all his bluffs to gain sympathies of the mostly uneducated masses must be censored.
Zafar Abbas, Canada

Yes, Nawaz Sharif's statements to the media must be filtered because there is a possibility of him revealing state secrets. However, In Camera he must be allowed to say anything necessary to defend himself, this is how Court will hear arguments from both sides to make the trial impartial.
Rafique Ali, Canada

I think the case against Sharif has been proved beyond doubt, therefore his statement will not make any difference. The people of Pakistan are smart enough to see through his lies.
Irfan Cheema, USA

Firstly the PM with full mandate is adjust the constitution and then he is applauded after he refurbish the Judicial System of the Country and suddenly he was stopped between his modification of the National Defence structure.......
Keeping aside his baddies and goodies, the Country needs a break, a break which gives them National Security, Social Stability and a street wide prosperity.
Besides if the case is left suspended he will not be the ONLY ONE getting rotten and decayed in the JAIL of Karachi. The Question is if he is the Criminal then who is not the criminal and if he is not the criminal then WHO IS THE CRIMINAL....... Change the format of the GAMES GUYS, people need a CHANGE
Mohammed Hasham, QATAR

Nawaz Sharif does not deserve any sympathy or justice at all. He destroyed or tried to destroy the judiciary. Never in the history of Pakistan or for that matter in any civilised time, did any one physically send his hooligans to occupy the Supreme Court Building, excited and incited by him during his so called Democratically elected Prime Ministership. He was one of the worst dictators Pakistan has ever had. An elected dictator. At each stop he would mention his heavy mandate he received from the people. The rest is history.
Muzaffar T., Canada

Any information that can put the security of Pakistan in danger should be censored. Pakistan has a right to guard her national interests. However Mr. Sharif should be given a fair chance to relay his side of the story. The actions taken by Mr. Sharif's defending team seems a very irresponsible decision. They should defend him while obeying the rules and laws of Pakistan. They should understand the sensitivity of the job on hand. We all hope that in the end justice will prevail.
Asif, US

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