If the basis of PML-N’s unwavering support is blind devotion, would reason even matter at all?

Published: August 19, 2017

Pakistani ousted prime minister Nawaz Sharif (C) waves as his convoy passes supporters during a rally on August 12, 2017 in Lahore. PHOTO: AFP

An impeached prime minister, an overjoyed opponent, scandal relishing media outlets and 197 million whispering spectators – welcome to Pakistani politics.

Every day here is better than your average soap opera and provides fodder for your next gossip session. Don’t get me wrong. I am highly sensitive to the ‘delicate junction in history our beloved country currently stands at’. However, I cannot help but question how much we needed to sacrifice in order to get here and if it could have been done any other way.

Why do some nations only need the fall of confederate statues to trigger a movement, whereas others have human bodies falling every day but fail to make an impact?

Nawaz Sharif’s recent homecoming rally was targeted to move the masses living alongside GT road. In a nation where the bar of success is based on the ‘citizen turn-out’ on rally days, which perhaps is even more significant than the one on voting days, Nawaz may have been successful in proving that Punjab is still his stronghold.

However, Pakistan is a country where literacy rates ride low, voter pressure runs high and national television broadcasts Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) members distributing banknotes to gain crowd saturation. This makes us question whether all the political activities are staged. How many people in the crowd would have actually read the entire decision released by the Supreme Court (SC) that resulted in Nawaz’s impeachment?

One wonders how long fiery sentiments and frivolous shows of power will sell for. Will Nawaz’s refusal to accept the decision of the judiciary alter the hierarchy between the institutions of the country? This is the same judiciary that Nawaz fought for in 2007 during the lawyers’ movement.

If Nawaz’s voters cannot see the corruption charges against him, can they at least see his disloyalty to the movement for the restoration of the judiciary? The level to which these voters are stooping to is beyond belief and questions of morality kick in.

Recently, I witnessed a passionate PML-N female supporter crying on television. She gave no rationale and asked for nothing but to meet her hero Nawaz, who had been mistreated by the judiciary of Pakistan. If the basis of PML-N’s unwavering support is blind devotion, would reason even matter at all? If Nawaz’s plan is to turn a nation against its highest power, the judiciary of Pakistan, how can one expect any logic from him?

It won’t be wrong to say that PML-N is a one-man show. How else do you explain the complete disarray that has befallen the party due to charges placed on a single party member? What is even more incredulous is the lack of confusion about the next of kin in the party, which was obviously going to be one of the Sharif family members. Even though democracy calls for equal opportunity, PML-N’s presidential seat has always been filled by a member of the Sharif family, not on the basis of merit but blood.

Perhaps it is this addiction to self-glorification and desire for power that took the life of a nine-year-old boy and caused his father to suffer from a cardiac arrest. Nawaz’s son-in-law, Captain Muhammad Safdar, termed the loss as a ‘sacrifice for Pakistan’ but did a nine-year-old boy really need to bear the brunt of this sacrifice? How could you even conceive a minor to be a part of a movement against the judiciary of Pakistan?

The failure of PML-N lies in not acknowledging that the motorcade of an impeached prime minister led to an innocent child’s murder. When Heather Heyer, a Charlottesville victim was killed in a similar manner, US citizens mourned her loss. Their first reaction was to see whether citizens are complying with the requirements of a peaceful demonstration. It was not a celebration.

Reasonable people would ask how Nawaz moved on and continued his rally to Lahore after the loss of an innocent life. How was it not catastrophic enough to bring him to a stand-still? If our leaders do not value a life, how will we ever improve the mortality number?

One can appreciate Raza Rabbani’s intentions which reflected on how he wanted to bring the judiciary and military to the Parliament. But this will set the wrong precedent, since it doubts a decision given by five SC judges. If we need all our institutions to function properly, we need to allow them to do their job and not let a one-man show diminish their role. Nothing can give citizens immunity from the law, and today Pakistan needs to decide whether this includes the people’s mandate or not.

Natalia Naveed

Natalia Naveed

The author is from Lahore, Pakistan. She is a rising junior at Mount Holyoke College, Massachusetts and majoring in International Relations and Journalism. She is currently interning for the Pakistani Mission at the United Nations.

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

  • Parvez

    Very nicely said ……and very correctly said.
    Our people have been told that democracy is all about voting a person into power…….they have not been told that once he is in power if he does not deliver for the people he can and should be held accountable. For the first time a process of accountability has been initiated and this is a learning process for the politicians and the people. Let us hope the lesson is both taught well and it’s properly understood.Recommend

  • fze

    The disease of blind following is endemic in all parties, why to pick upon only one?Recommend

  • Sami

    The complete disconnect of the Elite with the ordinary public is evident from your article. You belong from the same category of people that have the Sheer Hatred for the local people of Punjab. The same people who consider PMLN followers as Paindu and Punjabi speaking since the hatred of the locals, their culture, language and way of life is a part of the fake Pakistani Ideology.

    Let me tell you that PMLN is a geniune party. The sons and daughters of Army Officrers, Beaurucrats and Elite will never understand this since they never want to interact with the local people as they are too dirty and poor to be a part of the party of Cool people( that is PTI).
    The real blind followers are from PTI not from PMLN. Also this is absolutely false that PMLN is a one man show.
    Moreover Disrespecting the party members of one party and calling them names and blind followers is uncalled for.
    I am totally failing to comprehend that why PTI members think that illiteracy has anything to do with PMLN following. This is not the case at all.
    The Ground realities are different. But the people like You will never understand the microdynamics of the Political scene in our country.Recommend

  • Ahmar

    Did you just compare Charlottesville where a neo-nazi purposefully drove into a rally of protesters to an accident? You are so very disconnected from reality.

    I think the support that Nawaz Sharif clearly has within the masses has badly affected the thinking capacity of PTI followers.

    What people don’t realize is that PML-N holds all the electoral power. People of Pakistan will go to Imran Khan’s “musical concert” rally for enjoyment, sure. But come elections, they will always vote for PML-N.Recommend

  • OSD

    Considering the very public and very frequent somersaults of Imran Khan on many national issues, which have not surprisingly earned him the unflattering sobriquet “U-Turn Khan”, I wonder why the author was able to attach the description of blind support of PMLN supporters and not to PTI supporters?Recommend

  • Humza

    Well said. The problem with our pseudo elite is that they fail to understand the basis of democracy. Namely that the view of the majority and the mandate should be respected. Belittling the majority of voters as being illiterate or small minded or incompetent is shameful. It is the respect of the fellow citizen which is lacking. No policy debate or discussion but just mindless mud slinging and “kick so and so out”. It never ends. The Pakistani economy was doing well with positive reviews from all major Western financial houses and investment analysts. Pakistan has decreased terrorism, more stability and CPEC with the highest growth rate of any Muslim nation. Obviously this is what really bothers the Elite who are shocked to see Pakistan being transformed into an Asian Tiger. I have read the JOT judgement in its complete form and to me it sounds like a cooked up way to kick out the PM. After decades of so called corruption, they had to kick out the PM based on not declaring 3k from his son and not being Sadiq and Ameen. The people of Pakistan are not as stupid as the Elite thinks. Nawaz Sharif can be kicked out and his whole family can be kicked out but majority rule by the party voted in by the majority has to be allowed to continue. The fact that the majority voted for the party that has brought more growth, development and stability to Pakistan in only 4 years of its current term is what matters and it’s got to continue.Recommend

  • Patwari

    Well, Somu, did you notice the blogger is from Lahore? Bet you a nickle
    she speaks Punjabi. And, besides, Somu, you do the same thing!
    When it comes to Sindhi, Muhajjirs, Balochis and Pathans. You even said
    you were the tallest man in Karachi.
    Raja of Raiwind [now deposed] his ever present Vizier Li’l Bit Sharif, abba
    of Hamza. Then Princess Maryam, same one who was in charge of the
    Youth Loan Scheme, with no experience in banking or finance, put there
    by her abba, removed by Lahore High Court when they found out. We
    have Hamza who basically sits in back row, when parliament is in session, combing his hair, looking at his teeth. snipping his nose hair. Talking on cell.
    Nobody else comes to mind in connection with PML-N, except these people. Ooops ! Forgot Kalsoom, Dollar Dar, Saad Rafique and the Khawajas.
    Oh! And the “alleged rich Elite” Sardar Yakoob. currently president of PML-N who thinks Punjabi peons are born to serve the rich and PML-N. He does comes to mind as PML-N. Definitely.Recommend

  • Patwari

    Because you
    are condoning a corrupt prime minister who plundered, and looted
    Pakland to the tune of almost $3.8 billion dollars USD.
    There are 19 real estate properties that Nawaz owns in London.
    Four of them belong to Ivanka Sharif.
    Same Nawaz who has zero leadership skills and was deposed by the Supreme Court of the Land of the Pure.
    That includes being run out of office twice before. On same charges.
    His very debatable so called mandate, was confined to Punjab.
    Upheld by the long suffering peons there, who regularly have
    bundles of cash thrown at them. In broad daylight. All on TV.
    Nawaz was never welcomed in other provinces. He was the prime minister of Punjab only. Where his half illiterate voter base resides
    See, if there are upwards of 15 million school age children in Punjab who have never seen the inside of a classroom,…then the rest is
    not much of a going concern, is it?
    Except for people like you with just one litany..
    ‘Massa Sharif, our Lord and savior of Punjab, may he come back again and again, may his family rule us to eternity.’
    For your info, the rest of the country “ain’t buying this liturgy”Recommend

  • Patwari

    Comment was edited by the Punjabis at Hindia loving ETRecommend

  • sterry

    There are a lot of Indian Muhajirs who live in Punjab and they may have learned some Punjabi but how is this relevant? Ask her if she only watches Indian movies and only speaks Hindi / Urdu if you want to make a point about her Indian background. If you deny the obvious that people of the soil love their land more than a migrant from somewhere else, just go to Europe and see how the migrants in Germany or Sweden are integrating into society. Pakistanis have been very tolerant and welcoming. Keep your hatred of native Pakistanis to yourself. Speaking badly about the majority people of the country will never win any argument except in India.Recommend

  • Patwari

    Gosh darn . Swooning over Manufactured fairy tales about
    the zooming economy, and all these major financial houses
    in the West falling over themselves in beating a path to invest
    in Sharif Sugar Mills? Hamza Turkey Farms? Or the latest con scheme cooked by Khadim e Ala Shahbaz the Vizier.
    So far have not heard a peep from Wells Fargo, Mellon, Citi Corp., Berkshire Hathaway, US Bancorp., JP Morgan, Goldman Sachs OR Morgan Stanley…zero, nada, nothing about this mirage of a booming economy brought about by Dollar Dar his minions, cohorts, cabal, plus pseudo whizs,
    and Emperor Nawaz bin Salman bin AbdelAziz bin Panama.
    Also known as the Thrice Ousted Prime Minister. A Guinness
    World record holder, to boot. The latest has it that Saudia will cooperate with NAB in providing further proof of corruption.