Is Nawaz Sharif doomed to repeat history?

Published: June 24, 2014

Nawaz Sharif's drive for absolute power has resulted in questionable measures being taken as a result of panic which has left the nation in disarray as always.

A wise man once said,

“Those who don’t know history are doomed to repeat it.”

But the tragedy here is that our rulers have been completely blinded by power and they are repeating the same mistakes over and over again. What was supposed to be a democracy is beginning to look like an anarchical dynasty. They have ignored the basic facts of history which occurred not too long ago.

In this regard, there are two sets of dates that I would like to draw your attention to:

June 19, 1992 versus June 17, 2014 – state terrorism

On June 19, 1992, a clean-up operation was launched in Karachi against the 72 ‘big fish’ of a leading political party, Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) over the Jinnahpur plan controversy. As per the controversy, MQM were making plans of separating Karachi from Pakistan to provide a separate state for the Urdu-speaking Muhajir community. The idea came under extensive criticism and its tactical operational results remain inconclusive. This later turned out to be absolutely fallacious and more than 15,000 innocent MQM workers were murdered extra-judicially.

On June 17, 2014, citing a court order, the government proactively decided to remove the barriers present outside the Pakistan Awami Tehreek (PAT)’s leader, Tahirul Qadri’s, house in Model Town, Lahore. Baton charge was put in place against the PAT workers and as a result, 11 workers were martyred and over 80 were injured. The law enforcement agencies claimed there were weapons present in large quantities inside the secretariat.

October 12, 1999 versus June 22, 2014 – plane hijacking

On October 12, 1999, the Chief of Army Staff and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee, General Pervez Musharraf was overthrown from his post while he was on a foreign tour to Sri Lanka and was ordered to be arrested upon his return. Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, alongside General Ziauddin Butt, was planning a coup against Musharraf so that General Ziauddin could take control of the military. Sharif ordered Karachi’s Jinnah Terminal to be sealed off to prevent the landing of Musharraf’s airliner fearing a coup d’état. His plane was denied landing and was ordered to land at Nawabshah Airport where Sharif had despatched his own jet and security team to take the general into custody.

On June 22, 2014, PAT founder Dr Tahirul Qadri was returning to Pakistan in what, he promised, was to be a revolution to bring electoral reforms and put an end to corruption. After circling Islamabad airport endlessly, in an effort to seek permission to land, Emirate airline was directed, on instructions from the prime minister, to reroute the plane to Lahore. Qadri, at this point, refused to exit the aircraft, fearing for his life, and demanded to be taken to Islamabad where he was originally supposed to land. After extensive negotiations, and what was being referred to as an ‘aircraft hijack’, he agreed to disembark the plane but on the condition that an army official and the governor of Lahore escorts him to his residence in Lahore.

The citizens of this nation are well-aware of what the consequences of decisions made in 1992 and 1999 were, but is prime minister aware or are we headed in the same direction? A famous writer, Chuck Palahniuk once said,

“If you watch closely, history does nothing but repeat itself. What we call chaos is just patterns we haven’t recognised. What we call random is just patterns we can’t decipher. What we can’t understand, we call nonsense. What we can’t read, we call gibberish.”

All four occasions were orchestrated by the same democratic government of Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) to deflect any ‘threat’ to their rule.

Although Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has been in office for the third time, he doesn’t seem to have learnt anything from history and his past experiences. His drive for absolute power has resulted in questionable measures being taken as a result of panic which have left the nation in disarray, as always. German philosopher, Karl Marx, stated,

“History repeats itself, first as tragedy, second as farce.”

Sharif has already faced and survived a tragedy from the 1999 coup. It is now his responsibility to show leadership and experience in handling these matters to avoid any possible farce.

Hasan Tasleem

Hasan Tasleem

A Michigan based accountant, he is a socio-political observer and a writer. Believes in writing for change. He tweets as @Ha5an_ (

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.

  • Arsalan

    “His plane was denied landing and was ordered to land at Nawabshah
    Airport where Sharif had despatched his own jet and security team to
    take the general into custody.”

    What is the source for this claim? As far as I know, the plane was not allowed to land anywhere in Pakistan and it was suggested that it should be landed in India instead.Recommend

  • Tanzeel Ahmad

    Nawaz has a history of diverting planes, getting his agenda pushed through Police. TUQ is here to provoke less wise Sharif for extreme steps and I am sure Nawaz Sharif won’t disappoint him.Recommend

  • MA

    oxymoron of the day….innocent MQM workers!!!…LMAORecommend

  • AmbreenAmber .

    Great article. Both Sharif brothers have learnt nothing from the years they were in prison and in exile for the acts they committed in 1999. As a Pakistani who does not have any affiliation with any political party, I was hoping to see if Sharif had indeed matured and would be a good PM, the third time around. Sadly, it became quite clear within a few days of taking oath, that Sharif would continue with the revenge politics that he was famous for in the 90s, and would treat this country as if it were his own personal backyard. Not only have both Sharifs taken revenge from innocent government officials and private sector representatives who were unwilling to do business with them, but they also came to power with a list of people who they did not like and proceeded to use the FIA and other agencies to harass them, and implicate them in false cases. Sharif spent more days overseas on foreign trips during the past 13 months than any other PM in history. On top of that, both Sharifs have once again allienated the armed forces, and have had a role in the killing of innocent protestors in Lahore. Qadri is being taunted for holding dual nationality. Well, if dual nationals are so bad, then why does the government beg them for remittances to help Pakistan? And why is it that a huge number of the Sharif’s properties and bank accounts are all overseas? It’s pretty hypocritical to be honest, but that is what the Sharif brothers are known for, and once again they will not complete their term in office, and quite frankly, they do not deserve to either. Their style of governance, and their sense of entitlement to do whatever they think is right in their own minds, is something that this country can not afford, and whether its Qadri, Imran Khan or the armed forces themselves who intervene, I am sure the days of this government are numbered and like many Pakistanis, I will not be sad to see the back of the Sharifs, they have learnt nothing and never will either.Recommend

  • Reem

    The Sharif brothers are typical of the type of personalities we have had in politics in Pakistan for many years. Their purpose to get into power is to make money, travel overseas at the tax payers expense, and settle scores with people who they consider to be ‘loyal’ to the other party, or folks who they just do not like. In many ways, the army has probably ruled this country the best compared to any other political leader, including Bhutto. I feel that the nature of thought in Pakistan is such that only the stick that the army carries when in power is what Pakistanis respond to. Surely the armed forces cannot stay out of the corridors of power for much longer, especially after seeing the cold blooded murder of protestors. Imran Khan is not a viable option either, as he is like John Kerry in the USA – a flip flopper and extremely indecisive. If Imran had joined Qadri in 2013, the rigged elections would never have taken place. Yet Imran decided to support Iftikhar Chaudry and paid the price. Even now, he is reluctant to support Qadri, and as a result even he will miss his chance as once the Sharif government is overthrown shortly, the army will probably come in for the long haul and I think that is the best option for Pakistan as the army can make proper policies without the weakness and lack of integrity that surrounds Pakistani politicians.Recommend

  • Reem

    Its common knowledge. Sharif ordered the CAA to divert the plane to Nawabshah which was the planes alternate destination. Every plane has to have a alternate airport they can land at in case they are unable to make it to their primary location. He diverted the flight to land in Nawabshah, however the army took control of the tower and asked the plane to come back to Karachi, as the pilot of the PIA flight had already decided he was going to head to Nawabshah before he runs out of fuel, after circling over Karachi.Recommend

  • Critical Thinker..!!!

    Nice topic but sorry not proper information…Innocent MQM workers…in which city to do live…Please take some time out and meet your innocent brothers in Karachi some day..:!!!Recommend

  • KahnaKacha

    Half truth. I am no fan of NS, but author has exaggerated many things. Just for the sake of facts, as a PM NS had the authority to replace Army Chief and appoint a new one. He method was sneaky, that he replaced Musharraf when he was out of country, but it was well within his powers as per the constitution. There was no coup by Gen Zia, in fact there was a coup/mutiny by some officers against him, who refused to accept him as new chief and decided to support an Ex Chief. Not letting the plane land was definitely a cheap tactic, but cannot be amounted to high jack.

    Mr. Qadri’s plane diversion was also a sneaky effort and a cheap tactic, but again his life was not in danger. Mr. Qadri wanted to be flown to Islamabad and refused to get off the plane in Lahore.

    Murder of PAT people was straight up state terrorism and must be condemned. NS’s own family has barriers around all of their residences, but Mr. Qadri shouldn’t be doing same wrong thing. Voluntary removal of those barriers could have spared some lives.Recommend

  • Jamrud Khan Afridi

    Exactly. He was not allowed to land in Pakistan. Would have ended up in Indians hands.Recommend

  • fze

    NS and SS are incompetent students of history.Recommend

  • Enkay

    Hasan Tasleem : If one is not careful then History has a bad habit of repeating itself. PeaceRecommend

  • mhss

    Innocent MQM workers??
    I’m surprised how you can call yourself an socio-political observer!Recommend

  • Mohammad Shuaib Hussain

    I will be sad because if democracy is derailed because NS will be overthrown – but IK or Qadri will NOT have a chance at becoming PM, which is a great thing in mho, because I really think IK is indecisive and too emotional to be PM. He is a real tsunami of stupidity. I fear the day he will lead our nation – into the ground. There is much more to running a country than doing jalsas.
    He says his jalsas do not derail democracy and then calls for a million man’s march to derail. LMAO.Recommend

  • Mohammad Shuaib Hussain

    MQM workers or militia?Recommend

  • Mohammad Shuaib Hussain

    You are fool if you think Shahbaz Sharif ordered the police to shoot at protestors.Recommend

  • Mohammad Shuaib Hussain

    He ordered that because Musharraf was planning a coup.Recommend

  • arooj

    NS hasn’t learn anything from past..Recommend

  • Dtrix

    A simple google search would have told you that the quotation that you opened your article with is widely associated with Edmond Burke. And that isn’t the only problem with your article.Recommend

  • Talha Arslan

    The content shows a clear biasness. There isn’t any comparison among the quoted events. the action in Karachi was to ensure peace in Karachi, which lasted nearly 15 years after that operation. Yet it is agreed that Nawaz had made many mistakes…Recommend

  • Talha Arslan

    His followers are also emotional as their leader is…Recommend

  • zach ameen

    The important question: What is democracy? empowerment of people and judiciary. Transferring power and funds to local level like powers and money to Zila Nazim and Mayor; not to Commissioners or MNA or MPA. True democracy was offered by Mr Musharraf when every Zila Nazism was getting funds to spend on their towns.
    The who process was reversed by PPP (un democratic practice) Commissioners. Commissioner takes every penny of city and transfer the funds to their bank accounts in Swiss account.Recommend