Is Nawaz Sharif Being Marginalized?
By Dr Ghayur AyubLondon, UK
It was May 13, 2006. A day before Nawaz Sharif and the late Benazir Bhutto were going to sign the Charter of Democracy, a historic document, equated by some to The Magna Carta. The ceremony could run into problems, as a few members of the PML-N team showed reservations on signing it at the residence of Rehman Malik, the ex-chief of FIA who had maltreated the late Mian Sahib. When the problem was brought to the notice of Mian Sahib, he thought for a long time and looked pensively into the faces of those sitting around him. There was complete silence in the room. Syed Ghaus Ali Shah’s face was blank, while all the others looked somber. I turned my face to look at Nawaz Sharif again, he was still thinking. Then, he moved in his chair with slight unease. “We should sign it no matter where the place is. It’s a historic document and our personal feelings should not come in the way of this noble cause”. I looked at him and realized that moment that he was one of the most misunderstood persons. His enemies called him a man with no vision or foresight. They ranked him as an ordinary politician who was lucky to have become the prime minister twice. Contrarily, his colleagues respected him for taking difficult decisions at appropriate times. His friends loved him for keeping simplified social dignity. They saw a man with unmistaken ‘Haya’ in his eyes and respect for others. Politically, the decision he took there was far from simple. He kept his feelings aloof when he took that decision. Over a year later, when Benazir Bhutto was holding secrete parleys with general Musharaf, against the specific clauses of CoD, Nawaz Sharif kept silent and did not criticize her. At the same time, he maintained his firm stand opposing the general for derailing democracy. Here was a leader showing statesmanship despite being provoked by the media to speak against Benazir Bhutto. His statesmanship became apparent during the days, when Aitezaz’s strong support to Ch Iftikhar became a sore point with Benazir Bhutto. The relationship between the two touched the lowest ebb. It was then that a colleague suggested to Nawaz Sharif to exploit the situation to his political advantage. Nawaz Sharif sent him a message stating, “We do not want to play any tricks with her. Let’s think and play straight.” That was July 23, 2007. The next day at the party’s office in Duke St, London, the same colleague was feeling bad about his suggestion. Nawaz Sharif came and patted him on his back and smiled. That’s how his attitude is. During the following months, BB concentrated on doing politics via the corridors of influential political powers of United States, and NS focused on the politically empty streets of Pakistan. In one of the brainstorming meetings it was suggested to him to hire a firm in the US as BB had done. He strongly opposed the idea saying, “We don’t need foreign hands to strengthen us in our struggle for democracy.” With that in mind, he landed in Pakistan twice and was sent back to Saudi Arabia with humiliation the first time. On other hand, in an arranged return, Benazir was welcomed like a queen. After BB’s assassination, NS was the first to visit the hospital. In the following weeks, against a turmoil created by her murder, he made considerable political impact as shown by the election results. His success in elections was based on understanding public feelings vis-a-vis two issues: restoration of judges; and removal of Musharraf.After elections, good relations developed between him and Asif Zardari reviving the faded CoD in the form of the Murree Declaration. Both played a responsible role though the post-CoD distrust was still alive and the two parties had diverse views on the key issues of the restoration of judges and the removal of Musharraf. The days and weeks that followed the elections presented events showing as if some forces were trapping or isolating Nawaz Sharif. What were those forces and how did they work? Let us look at a few issues in that context;I.·On Musharraf; the PPP started having back-channel parleys with the presidency after the Murree Declaration, repeating the story following the signing of the CoD. In this context, Ahmad Mukhtar, a close friend of Asif Ali Zardari, stated on TV that Benazir wanted to go along with Musharraf. He further said the president’s role could be of great help in the fight against terrorism and in ensuring the country’s security. In contrast, Nawaz Sharif insisted that he would not work with him in any capacity. II. Ch. Ifthikhar: Asif Ali Zardari had offered the position of Balochistan governor to Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry as reported on television. This meant his stance on the sacked CJP was changing as this position was contrary to the Murree Declaration. On the other hand, Nawaz Sharif’s stand on this issue was clear and unshakable. III. Judges: It is said a PPP minister had met some of the deposed judges to seek assurances that once restored, they would not re-open cases against President Musharraf. He had been telling each judge that he had met other judges who had agreed to the condition. Later, when some of the judges got together, they found that the minister had been bluffing. In another move, some PPP stalwarts were said to have become part of this game plan to offset the PPP commitment to restore judges through a resolution in the National Assembly. Farooq Naik had recommended constituting a committee to decide whether the sacked judges would be restored through a parliamentary resolution or through a constitutional amendment. This statement of the law minister was in complete contrast to the Murree Declaration, which clearly stated that the restoration of the deposed judges would be done through a National Assembly resolution. IV: MQM: Asif Ali Zardari, following a policy of ‘forgive and forget’, had offered MQM a share in the Sindh cabinet and showed his intention to give the party two to three slots in the federal cabinet. In response, Nawaz Sharif convened a meeting of his party MNAs and MPAs to discuss the PPP plans. It is said that the majority of PML-N leaders were opposed to the PPP’s inclusion of MQM in the federal government. According to the PML-N sources, Zardari called Nawaz Sharif and tried to convince him about the matter but he was unsuccessful. V. New appointments: The first four appointments by Asif Ali Zardari created a stir in the hierarchy of the PML-N. It is said that PML-N has decided not to appoint officers with bad reputation. To prove this point, Shahbaz Sharif asked for one of the most honest bureaucrats as the chief secretary of Punjab . VI. PCO of November 3, 2007: A top legal mind of the PPP Sardar Latif Khosa has been expressing his views that the constitutional changes made by President Musharraf through his PCOs are now part of the Constitution. In a TV talk show, he said the Constitution stood amended after the Nov 3 PCOs. This viewpoint is contrary to the stance taken by the signatories of the Murree Declaration that the right to amend the Constitution is solely with parliament. VII. Conspiracy theory by the presidency: Many believe that a conspiracy has been hatched to block the restoration of deposed Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, to keep Musharaf for full term of five years; and to marginalize Nawaz Sharif and exclude PML-N from the coalition in the center by making a new coalition between PPP, ANP, MQM and PML-Q. This conspiracy is thought to have been hatched by the presidential camp. It is called ‘Minus One Formula’. It offers a Constitutional package, which would restore all judges except Ch Iftikhar, at the same time re-appoint all sitting judges after a review de novo by a parliamentary committee of both the houses of parliament. If this conspiracy theory is true, then it has the following fivefold aims, in addition to the objectives mentioned above: 1. To make parties like PML-N accept the PCO-PLUS of November 3, 2007 a Constitutional Act. This will tarnish Nawaz Sharif’s image. 2. To give a breathing space to President Musharaf (who is under tremendous pressure to quit) by diverting the attention of those who want to see him go. 3. To put Nawaz Sharif in a tight corner and create a wedge in his party, especially when the future of the Punjab Assembly is not yet clear. 4. To compel Aitezaz Ahsan take a compromised line. It is reported that he is eyeing for NA 55 seat and waiting for a nod by Asif Zardari who is annoyed with him. 5. To weaken PPP by encouraging those disgruntled PPP leaders who are being ignored by Asif Ali Zardari or who are opposed to his friendly parleys with the MQM. This conspiracy is the product of a plan written by Musharaf’s team before sacking the then CJP, Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry on March 9, 2007. In that plan, the well-wishers of the then General Musharaf wanted a future government headed by him and composed of PPP, PML-Q, ANP and MQM. It seems that what we see today in the political arena is the rebirth of plan hatched in the good old days of dictatorial rule. It is testing times primarily for Nawaz Sharif, who fought elections keeping the feelings of the common men on the streets in mind. If he did not succumb to pressures and accepted being marginalized, he would go down in history as a politician who stood like a statesman and fought a just war to recover the independence of the judiciary which fell into the hands of the army back in 1956. Keeping his past history of standing against unwanted powers in mind, he will do what is expected of him.
MA SINDHI MA PUNJABI BALOCHI MA PATHAN HUM SAB KA HA HUM SAB KA HUM SAB KA PAKISTAN
MA SINDHI MA PUNJABI BALOCHI MA PATHAN HUM SAB KA HA HUM SAB KA HUM SAB KA PAKISTAN