Categorized | South Asian Politics

Sharif entangled domestically by Imran Khan and internationally by Modi

Posted on 28 September 2016 by admin

Dr. Hasan Askari

 Pakistan faces a very difficult diplomatic and military situation with India against the backdrop Pakistan’s public denunciation of the use of brute force by India’s security forces for suppressing a popular uprising Kashmir. This synchronizes with Nawaz Sharif’s difficulties in the domestic context. The PTI of Imran Khan is launching a major protest on September 30 for initiating investigations against the Prime Minister and his family with reference to the Panama Leaks, and justice for those killed and injured in Model Town Lahore outside Dr. Tahir-ul-Qadri’s office by the Punjab Police in June 2014.

 Both issues are so complex the Prime Minister’s family and a number of the high up in the Punjab government may run into serious difficulties. Therefore, there is hardly any possibility for a concrete action on these two issue as long as the PMLN rules the Punjab and the federal level.

 Imran Khan appears determined to stage a protest march on the Raiwind Road, Lahore, on September 30 and hold a protest meeting there. Imran Khan has announced that the protest march would not go the gate of the residence of the Prime Minister which is at least four to five miles away from the Raiwind Road. However, the PMLN and a number of other leaders are criticizing Imran Khan for protesting at the gate of the Prime Minister’s residence.

 Imran Khan appears determined to undertake this protest march but hardly any other political party supports him on this issue. Dr. Tahir-ul-Qadri who was expected to be his main partner, refused to join him for the protest march and left the country for promotion of his transnational Islamic movement. Other parties that have refused to join Imran Khan include the PPP, Jamaat-I-Islami, the ANP, PMLQ, Wahadat-ul-Muslimeen, and JUIF. This is a good news for the ruling PMLN because Imran Khan can build pressure on the Punjab and federal government, but his party alone cannot cause the collapse of the government. He needs the support of several opposition parties, especially Dr. Tahir-ul-Qadri and the PPP, to paralyze the PMLN government.

 Initially the PMLN government was nervous by the PTI announcement about the protest march, fearing that most opposition parties would join it. The PMLN activists threatened to use violence to stop the protest march. The PTI activists threatened to respond to PMLN violence by violence. However, as it became clear that no major opposition party would join the protest march, the top PMLN leadership decided to stop their activists from threatening the opposition with violence.

 The credit for softening the disposition of the PMLN goes to the Punjab Chief Minister, Shahbaz Sharif, and the Federal Interior Minister Nisar Ali Khan who rightly felt that any violence on that day would discredit the government. Therefore, the Punjab government announced its decision to let Imarn Khan to hold public protest on September 30.

 Imran Khan is pursuing several objectives through public rallies and protest marches. He wants to keep the political momentum of his party very high through regular party activity. He also wants to force the accountability of Nawaz Sharif and his family with reference to the Panama Leaks and killing of 14 people. He also argues that the Sharif government in the Punjab and at the federal level continue to engage corruption and other illegal practices to make money for them. He also accuses the two government of allowing their loyalists to make money by corrupt practices.

 Pakistan does not have the tradition of accountability of sitting rulers for financial corruption while they are in power. Therefore Imran Khan’s political agenda appears to be very ambitious. If the street protest results in the collapse of the government, it would be an additional reward for Imran Khan.

 Imran Khan hopes that if continued with his protest rallies generate enough nationwide political momentum, other opposition political parties will be left with no choice but to join with the PTI’s protest rallies.

 Imran Khan’s street protest can dislodge the PMLN government in several ways. First, the opposition parties join together to launch a protest that pulls in all kinds of political and economic interests, including labor unions, industrial workers and peasants. If a nationwide protest sustains over time, it can jeopardize the political future of Nawaz Sharif.

 Second, violence breaks out on September 30 or in some later protest or the government decides to arrest Imran Khan, the Sharif brothers would be under pressure to quit.

 Third, if the Supreme Courts issues a judgment holding the PMLN government responsible of mal-practice, corruption, misuse of state resources and non-fulfilment of its commitment to people, the opposition will get a strong leverage to force Nawaz Sharif to quit.

 Fourth, there is a strong perception that Nawaz Sharif has soft disposition towards the Modi government because of his family business interests in India or with Indian business groups based outside of India. The Sharif family needs to clarify these issue. Another issue that requires immediate clarification are the quiet visits of Indian technical experts to the sugar mills owned by the Sharif family.

 Fifth, the Sharif government can land in a serious trouble if it appoints a relatively junior Lieut-General as the new Army Chief in a bid to control the army by appointing a person whom they could trust.

 The political rule of the Sharifs appears safe at the moment but one cannot be sure about the long term fate of the government.

Leave a Reply

Advertise Here
Advertise Here