A firm believer in the term ‘mukafaat e amal’ I have watched fascinated as the mighty in the land are being brought down one by one. For me the phenomenon that is manifesting itself in the ‘demise’ of the House of Sharif and consequently perhaps even the PML N (or should it now be renamed as PML S) is all the more painful, since I have seen a perfectly humble and down to earth family being transformed by power and greed, into something that embodies corruption, lack of integrity and vain pride. Faced with inevitable reckoning, this family unit has lost all sense of reasoning in their blind pursuit of regaining power. Their desperation is now writ large on faces, in utterances and body language. I can see it in the irate rush of blood on the former PM’s countenance, his agitated body movements, his high pitched tirade against the Apex Judiciary and the ‘Invisible Enemy’. It is amply reflected in the despondently slumped figure of Mr. Shahbaz Sharif, as he appears to be cowering from the vitriol being spewed by his elder sibling and his niece. The younger brother’s furrowed brow and down cast eyes convey much to discerning watchers, who see the face of someone desperately wanting to salvage something (almost anything) from the imminently smoking ruins of the Sharif reputation.
PML N’s desperation is multiplied, when they see the cracks appearing within their ranks and face the worst case scenario of not getting another term in office. I have been moving around pro Nawaz circles during and after the PTI ‘jalsa’ at the Minar e Pakistan on 29 April 2018 and observed nothing, but concern at Imran Khan’s show of power. I am told that this concern is also reverberating through the walls of Jati Umra.
It was during the aforementioned interaction that I came across the embryo of a notion taking root amongst some PML N supporters, according to which, much of the trouble plaguing the party is perhaps a result of its own culture, precipitated by the Party’s top level leadership. One can find ample basis for such a theory after seeing and hearing Nawaz Sharif, his daughter, son in law and others, lashing out at institutions in what can be metaphorically called a ‘death wish’. Some of these ‘others’, in their bid to be more ‘loyal to the king than the king himself’ sometimes cross limits of decency. The latest incident is a statement made by the Punjab Law Minister Rana Sanaullah. These remarks, coming from someone very close to Shahbaz Sharif, were indecent and lacking sound character. They raised well deserved indignation and furor, putting the CM Punjab under so much pressure that he was forced to offer a belated public apology. Regretfully enough, the source of these condemnable comments, appears to be unaffected by any guilt of having passed them.
Coming back to the PTI power show in Lahore, I tend to agree with politically savvy individuals, who say that an electoral outcome cannot be judged by the magnitude and size of pre-election activity. My opinion however comes with a caveat i.e. if not the size then perhaps it is the mood of the people in a particular political event that may be reckoned as an indicator of vote bank loyalty. If what I say makes sense, then the mood of the mammoth public meeting in the heart of PML N territory should indeed be a point to ponder for Nawaz Sharif and company.
The Ruling Party appears to be suffering setback after setback at a time, when it should be exiting office with no additional black marks against it. Take for example the budget speech of Mr. Miftah Ismail on the floor of the Parliament, which undoes steps put into place by the absconding Former Finance Minister Mr. Ishaq Dar. If this is not an admission of guilt and acceptance that Mr. Dar’s policies were flawed then what else is it? Consider the fact that at a time when Mr. Nawaz Sharif and his band of cronies is singing songs of a ‘load shedding free’ Pakistan, massive tripping is causing eight to ten hours of country wide summer time outage in both urban and rural areas. Ponder upon the specter that our treasury is empty rendering us unable to service the next debt instalment and that lending sources such as the Asian Development Bank have linked any more borrowing to approval of an IMF loan. By all standards our financial and economic health is in a mess, all because of one family that ran the country as their personal investment. When this is allowed to happen, then the investor feels no qualms in collecting his profits even though doing so may leave the state bankrupt. This happened because the people (the voters) allowed it to happen, raising the crucial question - will the Nation opt for change or will they fatally reinforce a failure?
The writer is a freelance columnist.