Sunday 8 November 2009

Silence of the Sharifs - by Dr Nazir Ahmed

Dr Nazir Ahmad, an eminent psychiatrist from Cheshire and an overseas Pakistani who is hurting at the political situation in Pakistan wrote the following piece for Bazm-e-Iqbal on the inefficiency of the political opposition in current political crisis in Pakistan.

Nawaz Sharif [most popular political leader in Pakistan, if polls are to be believed] appears to be in a daze and confused. His inactivity and inefficiency as leader of the opposition is shocking. He gropes for responses to simple questions [in media interviews]. For example when asked whether he support the military action [against Taliban in North West Pakistan] He appears completely lame, blank and devoid of ideas.

Any claim that this mysterious behaviour is actually a positive attribute - an attempt to avoid destabilising the political system is yet another joke that no one is buying. This is in fact is an insult to the intelligence of Pakistani public.

When his brother’s government [of Punjab province] was toppled [by an executive order of the President] the reaction by Sharif [brothers] was way over the top, one political rally after another followed repeated personal attacks on president Zardari. Message from Sharifs to the central government was clear - either put us back in charge of Punjab or we don’t care if this leads to wrapping of the whole political system once more.

The only understandable difference between then and now is that then it was seen by Sharifs as a personal assault and loss and Sharif’s decided to deal with the situation in a fitting manner, with full vigour, determination and had clearly laid outcome measures nothing short of regaining Punjab government. When however it comes to the interest of Pakistani people he has nothing to say.

But he has nothing to say when it is evident that most of the over eight dozen ministers have put the country up for sale, when the country is brought to a stand still by bomb blasts, when a legislation that stipulates all looters and plunderers are free to go and in the future its legal to kill, steal and plunder, when people spend all their day looking for flour and sugar and low wages and joblessness is pushing people to suicides or selling their children. His argument - he has nothing to say because that will endanger the democracy!

He did not say much in his tax returns to the election commission either. He revealed he has five thousand rupees and has property worth 10 million. I am confident Nawaz Sharif will soon be regretting his obsession with restoring the independent judiciary, as well. Rhetoric is one thing and accountability to honest judiciary another thing. He earned relentless praise while on moral high ground at the time but the question is when the judiciary exercise its power before which all are equal. Will Nawaz Sharif regret his endeavours. Why? Because if he was really as reformed as he tried and lead us to believe after his return from exile “I am now not that old Nawaz Sharif” “You will see a lot of difference in me now” he would have thought long and hard about his duty to this nation as a high stature opposition leader of this country in huge trouble.

Similarly his tax return forms would have had different details. You don’t have to be his accountant to tell it’s full of inaccurate information - in fact, lies. It is very naïve of him and his advisors not to realise that it was not going to go unnoticed by our ever enthusiastic media (most of whom luckily are on the public spirited, apart from some “gold diggers” who have rendered their services to Zardari (this name also literally means gold digger)), is active day and night, quite to the expectation of its viewers.

This very irresponsible act of double standards of a supposedly very responsible person should simply lead to rejection of his papers. What this also proves is sadly Nawaz Sharif has learned nothing from his eight years of dishonour including stripping from Prime Ministerial powers, forced exile, confiscation of businesses and properties, forced conditions on the next ten years of his political life, how he is to live and miserable state of mind. His actions are suspect and his explanations fall way beyond any man with an iota of common sense will accept.

He appears to be very much playing double games and posturing which is aimed at grabbing power prematurely rather than ensuring that under all circumstances the current political regime is allowed to complete its term but that he ensures Pakistan is run like Quaid Azam would have liked to run not the way Zardari is running it, like an underworld don. He failed miserably in his duty to the luckless people of Pakistan, yet again.

He should without any doubt pursue his course for seeking punishment for Musharraf in a persistent and determined manner but he has other and more pressing duties as well. Keep the pressure on Musharraf (which he seems to have suddenly turned off since his recent trip to Saudi Arabia) but help build this nation as well.

He doesn’t have indefinite time to come up with a robust policy and clarity of views. I hope he is aware of advice from Nelson Mandela “We must use time wisely and forever realize that the time is always ripe to do right.” He needs to establish a shadow cabinet for each major ministry to regularly monitor the performance of ministers and ministries, to voice clearly his views on Taliban.

Pakistani public now believe violence has no place in our society so Taliban either give up their arms or should face the consequences, and he should without any lapse of time speak on all issues of national importance with clarity. He needs to trust his financial managers more and send them on endless rounds to Dubai and UK and needs to spend more time inside the country and support the poor people of Pakistan in these testing times, people who despite his dismal previous performances and bowing before dictator and leaving the country rather than confronting him gave him yet another chance. Don't let them question - did he deserve their loyalty?

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