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Will the Court Verdict unseat Nawaz Sharif?
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VBN Ram | Date:07 May , 2017 0 Comments
Postgraduate in business management from XLRI Jamshedpur, is widely travelled and immensely interested in and concerned about contemporary geostrategic developments. He has been a China watcher and has researched extensively on Asia-Pacific affairs. He has also written on developments in Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iran and Maldives.

Eventually, if the turn of events don’t favour Nawaz Sharif, the three time prime-minister, a judicial verdict can remove him from office. Nevertheless, his political outfit PML (N) will never cease to dominate national relevance. Some years back Nawaz Sharif’s forced exile to Saudi Arabia for many years by his sworn detractor Gen Pervez Musharraf had all but written him off, but he bounced back. Didn’t he?

The indefatigable Imran Khan has been hell bent on Nawaz Sharif’s ouster from long back. His efforts at dislodging Sharif in Aug 2014 (when his henchmen and he along with Tahir ul Qadri gave nightmares to the enforcers of law to clear the main thoroughfares in the Pakistani capital) did not bear fruit. Imran is now accusing Nawaz Sharif of making an attempt to bribe him $ 10 billion ( through a friend of Prime-Minister Sharif’s brother Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif ) 1 Sharif has not only lashed out at Imran Khan, but also filed a defamation suit against him. Imran Khan has promised to soon publicly identify the person allegedly chosen by Sharif to bribe him.

Nawaz Sharif is atop a cliff precipice which is chipping in speedily at the edges. Cricketer turned politician Imran Khan (the founder of Pakistan Tehreek e Insaf i.e. PTI) whose political googlies can unnerve even best batting politicians ) has used his brahmasthra by petitioning Pakistan’s Supreme Court to take suitable action against Prime-Minister Nawaz Sharif and his family members for alleged money laundering and the possession of disproportionate assets.

Pakistan Supreme Court’s five judge bench came out with a divided verdict i.e. only three judges decreeing that further investigation is necessary before rushing in to pronounce Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif guilty- the fallout of the Court’s decision therefore, did not necessitate the immediate stepping down by Nawaz Sharif as Prime-Minister and this has breathed new life into Sharif loyalists.

However, Sharif’s legal team could not prove to the court that the London located prime real estate which Nawaz and his two sons had bought were not from Sharif’s so termed “ disproportionate wealth “ but, in fact, from laundered funds, led the court to decree that Prime-Minister Sharif was in complete breach of Art 62 ( 1) f of Pakistan’s Constitution, any violation of which proves the culpable person to be dishonest. About Sharif’s daughter Mariam Nawaz Sharif the court accepted the contention put by the defence that her legal status was only that of a trustee, which only entitles her to distribute the assets between family members as and when the need arose for such a move.

Nawaz Sharif’s claimed position, as a person beyond reproach is definitely not watertight not merely because his legal team failed to convince the Court that the London real estate owned by family members were solely from “ accounted hard earned money “ and not from laundered funds, but also because “ the Sharif’s family investment in upmarket London was disclosed in 1998 by Rehman Malik, a political opponent and head Pakistan’s Federal Investigation Agency who had fled to London after allegedly been arrested and tortured “ 2

The aforesaid report produced by Rehman Malik detailed the money trail leading to the controversial investment. It became a hot topic for discussion in the National Assembly and among masses –proved to be the proverbial Achilles heel for the Nawaz Sharif camp, which could not submit the same to the Court –and the Court, therefore was led to believe that vital information had been deliberately kept away from it.

The defence not coming upfront with the complete facts, has eroded the credibility of the supposedly independent institutions in Pakistan such as The Federal Investigating Agency and the National Accountability Bureau among others, who have been slammed by all the Judges- particularly the two striking a dissenting note.

It would not be a wild, or unfounded charge to state that the military-ISI combine in the deep State offers an emergency button to all crisis ridden power centres in Pakistan, at least to merely remain relevant, and ideally to become more powerful. Whether the aforesaid combine rescues the ship wrecked government from collapse and facilitates Sharif’s continuance in office- in the court mandated next 60 days is anybody’s guess.

Many analysts have claimed that in the eventuality of Nawaz Sharif having to step down, Imran Khan’s Tehreek e Insaf ( PTI ) will be reckoned as a political force to form the government. However, according to seasoned Pakistani journalists this may not necessarily follow. Umair Javed writing in The Dawn of April 24, 2017 says “ Nawaz Sharif is immensely popular in parts of Punjab, while others push forward parochial ethnic agendas, Sharif uses the language of development “ This is a popular refrain in areas other than Punjab also. The fact that Nawaz and his brother the Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif are well connected with ultra-radicals who have the capacity to browbeat many across the nation and particularly in Punjab will also provide a shot in the arm to the currently worried Nawaz Sharif. It is no secret that Hafiz Mohammed Saeed and those of his ilk continue to receive patronage and funds from the Punjab Provincial Government headed by Prime-Minister Nawaz Sharif’s brother Shahbaz Sharif.

There is no gainsaying, however, that there is a perception, especially in the Urdu language media that Nawaz Sharif has on occasions, taken such a pro-India stance that it has gone against Pakistan’s interests

The present government still has one year left in office and its strength in the National Assembly of 189 in the 342 member legislature, is far ahead of the other parties. Pakistan People’s Party has the next highest number of 42 and Imran Khan’s PTI is merely 35 strong. The rest of the parties are all single digit ones. Imran Khan is hoping that dislodging the present government will forthwith install him in office. He forgets, or chooses to, that the military will hesitatingly step in to fill a political vacuum. Besides even though the PPP and PTI are currently singing a anti-Nawaz duet, the former will turn adversarial the moment Imran stakes his imaginary claim to office. Parties other than PPP are extremely brittle to face the hustings.

Following the 2013 elections in Pakistan Imran Khan had alleged the entire election process was rigged. The charge was subsequently rejected by Pakistan’s Supreme Court.

Imran Khan’s spat with Pakistan’s Election Commission ( EC ) clearly visible through his legal ploys to stop the EC from hearing a petition accusing PTI of gross financial irregularities – when the EC overlooked Imran’s protests and moved forward in the matter, Imran brazenly called into question the integrity of the Commission. EC and Imran Khan differences have not yet been resolved.

Imran Khan’s PTI has not been able to improve the quality of governance and contain corruption in Khyber Pakthunkhwa, this naturally makes people question his capability to ascent to any higher national ambition.

Imran Khan lacks political maturity and is extremely reckless in his political pronouncements. Hence Army takeover can’t be ruled out. It happens on a weekly, or, shall we say weakly basis in Turkey and it has repeatedly happened in Pakistan. As a matter of fact, there is a Corps in Pakistan’s Army, which is specifically tasked for working the modalities/formalities during an emergency takeover by the army.

As far as one of the judges namely the Cambridge educated Justice Asif Saaed Khosa ( with whom Sharif did not find favour ) goes, his analogies and parallels in the Court verdict drawing metaphorical references from the best seller Godfather and Shakespere’s Merchant of Venice made the Panama Gate Court case as interesting to lovers of English literature as those who passionately follow Pakistani politics.

As it happens the head honchos of none of the three principal political parties in Pakistan can claim to possess an absolutely untarnished image, yet ironically and surprisingly all of them have not only survived, but two of them PPP and PML (N ) have also become ruling parties

References :

  1. Imran bribary allegation stirs up a hornet’s nest by Kable Ali/ Syed Ifran Raza : The Dawn April 27, 2017
  2. Pakistan PM’s children raised 7 million pounds against U.K. flats owned offshore by Juliette Garside, David Pegg and Jason Burke : The Guardian April 5, 2016.
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