Recently it seems every time the Prime Minister moves, he sparks another controversy. Be it walks in London’s upscale parks or shopping trips for wristwatches; Nawaz Sharif’s lavish lifestyle – or the perception among the masses of one – continues to politically dog him.
The mode of his return to the country after an extended recovery period has sparked another debate; a dedicated Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) commercial airline was deputised to bring back the Prime Minister and his team, because “there were no seats available on the normal flights”, according to the airline’s spokesperson.
Whatever the merits of previous criticism, appropriating a whole commercial airplane is definitely overkill. Combined with a nonsense explanation – it is logistically simpler to book a couple dozen seats rather than ask the national carrier to hand over a commercial jet – the accusations of “living like kings” are sure to start flying again. Not the best thing to be doing when the opposition is raring to take the Prime Minister to task.
Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan, as always, is leading the pack. While campaigning for party candidates ahead of the July 21 Azad Jammu and Kashmir elections, Imran Khan vowed to move the court over the use of the PIA plane by the Sharif family.
Prima facie he does have a point; the national carrier will have to bear the costs of transporting the entire Sharif family entourage, such as doctors and family members, many of whom hold no official capacity. Even if they did, the use of PIA’s services for the private use of VIPs – so soon after PIA went through extensive “restructuring” to make it more efficient and egalitarian – strikes a hypocritical tone.
While Imran Khan’s attention towards minute details of parliamentary procedure as the opposition is surely commendable, the way he manages these issues leaves a lot to be desired. The PTI chairman jumps from flashpoint to flashpoint, crisis to crisis, raising a lot of questions but providing very few solutions. This stratagem is highly visible, but otherwise useless.
After a massive media barrage following the Panama papers, the investigation into them is all but forgotten - already he has a new target. This pattern repeats itself. The electoral reform following the Dharna is forgotten, the new legislation for prime ministerial absence is forgotten, the disqualification petition against Maryam Nawaz is forgotten, amongst so many other issues.
Imran Khan needs to see his projects through and hold steadfast to his convictions. Had he focused on the issues he had raised instead of the ultimate objective – bringing Nawaz Sharif down – his brand of populist protest could have brought tangible change, right now it only creates a short lived media circus.