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August 13, 2017

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Comment: Nawaz shows he is not down and out

Comment: Nawaz shows he is not down and out

ISLAMABAD: Nawaz Sharif knows he has a strong case to fight in the political pitch to outsmart his opponents and alleged schemers. 

He understands that the Supreme Court’s weak and controversial verdict disqualifying him contains all the ingredients for him to exploit them for political gains. He is doing the same but perhaps with some hints of losing caution, which should not be the case.

In his GT Road Rally, which culminated on Saturday night in
Lahore, Nawaz has successfully  attracted reasonable crowd. His post-disqualification political campaign targets the SC judgment, raises questions on the neutrality of the court, suspects that his disqualification was pre-planned and part of a scheme to oust him from power, and recalls history where few men (powerful establishment) have been playing with constitution and civilian rule.

Time and again, he referred to Pakistan’s 70-years history where none of the Prime Ministers was allowed to complete his term while the military rulers had enjoyed prolonged rules. He talked about how the peoples’ mandate has been disrespected repeatedly and pressed that masses voted him to power but a few men ousted him from the PM’s office.

Undoubtedly what he says about the past is a matter of record from history where the civilian governments have been the target of nexus between powerful establishment and judiciary. He, however, ignored to mention how politicians including him have been used against each other.

Nawaz has the right to protest and do politics. As per law of the land, he can even criticize the SC’s judgment and also talk even about judges’ bias. However, he should not ridicule or disrespect the court even if he was dealt unfairly or unjustly.

There have been serious controversies attached with SC’s case against Nawaz Sharif. Questions were raised how a “frivolous” petition ended up in former PM’s disqualification in the apex court? There have been a number of disputes over the setting up and role of the JIT. The SC verdict itself invited serious objections even from legal fraternity. Some remarks like terming the former Prime Minister and his government as “godfather” and “Sicilian Mafia” by the SC judges also invited criticism against the court.

On the basis of all the above disputes, controversies and flaws there is a lot of material available with Nawaz Sharif to do politics and win the sympathies of the masses by using victim card. But sometimes he appears to be touching the redlines vis a vis the judiciary. He should avoid doing so, and needs to be cautious if he really means to improve the system through his new campaign for respect of voters’ choice to strengthen the civilian rule.

Some of his political opponents are really desirous of pushing him into a direct confrontational mode with judiciary and establishment. If he does so it would be disastrous both for Pakistan and its fragile democracy. 

Pakistan does need a frank debate to uphold constitutional rule where all institutions should be made to work within their domain and there is no nexus between powerful establishment and judiciary against civilian government. This target should be achieved without bringing into disrepute any state institution.

In this scenario where some of the politicians are frustratingly trying to bring NS and the state institutions at loggerheads, Senate Chairman Raza Rabbani took a unique initiative for possible dialogue between politicians, judiciary and military to uphold the constitutional rule in the country.

It is a fact that the powerful establishment-judiciary nexus in the past had never let civilian governments to complete their term. But it could also not be denied that the politicians and civilian governments also failed to deliver to pass on the fruits of democracy to the ordinary people. Thus if the sanctity of vote has been disrespected in the past by some adventurists from powerful establishment and judiciary, the successive elected governments also failed to honour their promises made to the people.

The GT Road rally has proved one point -- Nawaz Sharif even after his disqualification is still popular among masses and is therefore still relevant in Pakistani politics. It would be good to see him contributing positively to uphold constitutional rule. 

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