Nawaz Sharif will not go out without a fight, but is he willing to sacrifice a few pawns in this selfish game of politics?
It’s December already, the reflective month of the year where everyone looks forward to ending the current year on a high note and making some resolutions for the year ahead. This year was satisfactorily distinctive for Pakistan – politically speaking – especially for the government and its cohorts. It was also by that direct correlation, quite ecstatic for the opposition as well.
As a disclaimer, I would like to warn my readers to take everything with a bit of caution. If you did not understand the statement – conspiracy theory alert!
This year has been quiet tumultuous for the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) government and especially for Nawaz Sharif. His disqualification and the ensuing trial has become a bane for his party, not to mention his government. Worse still is the fact that his sycophants are still insistent on his ‘leadership’ and therefore altered legislation to get him back in PML-N’s driving seat.
I guess the ‘N’ in PML-N is there to stay and will not be becoming an ‘S’ anytime soon, sorry Shehbaz Sharif. It must be rough for Nawaz to see the judiciary he rallied for and spent a fortune on during the Musharraf era, come back and haunt him.
This was also a defining moment for Nawaz as a person. If he really cared so much about the law and upholding it, he should have just moved on quietly, which would have probably earned him a lot more ‘respect’ than the “mujhe kyun nikala” (why was I deposed?) memes did. But I guess expecting a politician to honour his word or not do something for his own benefit, is a bigger fairy tale than Beauty and the Beast ever was.
Everyone knows this has been brought about due to… you guessed it wrong, not Imran Khan. There is an element involved in this matter from the beginning, which of course can be linked to Nawaz’s growing brotherhood with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi across the border. Rumours are that the issue escalated after Nawaz allowed the Indians a few ‘clandestine concessions’ which should not have been given. The powers that found out about this, only need to get a whiff of such things and whoosh, you’re a goner. If Aamir Liaquat Hussain can divulge Altaf Hussain’s intimate details on satellite television and taunt him about having a spy on his team, I am sure our agencies can muster a lot better sources of information.
This also brings us to the latest fiasco, which transpired in Islamabad. The Faizabad dharna, which began on November 6th, culminated in an agreement after a botched dispersal operation by the police on November 27th. The agreement, which can be found online and in the news, lays the blame on the government and also vindicates all the protestors from any legal action in the aftermath. This also means that all the property and vehicles, both public and private, which were burned down or mauled, will be borne by the federal government, meaning nobody is getting anything.
There were some nasty rumours, which were circulating during this sordid affair and botched operation. One of the most harrowing yet believable ones was that the government (or rather the PML-N) itself had secretly asked these protestors to sit-in at Faizabad, promising them reimbursement for the funds they spend in the process. The man leading this from the PML-N end was none other than Captain Safdar himself and the situation escalated when the protestors demanded more than the party was willing to pay. Another important thing to note was that one of the main leaders of this ‘movement’, Khadim Hussain Rizvi, also played an instrumental role during the Mumtaz Qadri trial, the same man who shot Salman Taseer.
Why would the government deliberately botch up a security operation? Simple reason was to corner the military into taking control of the capital and somehow force them to take over the reins of government. This – to the minds of the PML-N think tank – was the only way to save Nawaz from his current dilemma and declare themselves as political martyrs. Worse rumour still was that they were even willing to allow certain ‘external forces’ to intervene, to force the military’s hand in the matter. Thank God, that did not happen.
In a way, Nawaz and the gang have broken away from most, if not all, of the people they have supported and politically associated with in the past. This includes the army, which practically trained him in politics during the Ziaul Haq era, the judiciary with whom he has had an on-and-off relationship, and the religious parties, who allied with him during most of his years of rule, but now deem it haram (forbidden) to vote for him.
However, he is a wily old customer who wanted to supplant Shehbaz’s son Hamza Shehbaz with his own daughter Maryam Nawaz in the political scheme of things. That still hangs in the balance with the Fontgate hearings still underway. If she is found guilty – which Hamza is secretly praying for – she may be disqualified from holding public office. This will bring an end to the game of succession planning, which Nawaz had been playing for some time now. He now also faces a quiet threat from his own younger brother Shehbaz who is bound to lead the party during Nawaz’s disqualification. With unsurmountable issues and cases piling up, things don’t look good for Nawaz.
All that said, Nawaz will not go out without a fight. Politics is a selfish game where families and even one’s own blood is shed, to save political and financial influence. There is no corrupt political dynasty in Pakistan which has not given up its own at the altar of power. It remains to be seen, whether he will sacrifice a few pawns or will the larger pieces suffer. It is certain, at least in my mind, that Nawaz will by hook, crook and nook cling on to political power and march his troops onwards to the upcoming elections. How he fares, only time will tell.
The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.