ISLAMABAD - Besides so many gigantic challenges awaiting the upcoming Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf government, the issue of handling the corruption cases against former prime minister Nawaz Sharif and former president Asif Ali Zardari and their family members would be the most thorny matter, with vast political and credibility repercussions for Imran Khan.
Over the years, PTI Chairman Imran has weaved his political ideology around ruthless blanket accountability and rule of law, while in the given situation with a thin majority in the parliament, taking some tough position on moving forward with corruption cases and inquiries pending against some powerful political players would not be an easy task.
The government would have to tackle a plethora of problems – particularly depleting foreign exchange reserves, increased foreign and local loans, flying inflation and price-hike. In this scenario, pushing the corruption cases against the leadership of powerful political players in the Parliament could cost PTI dearly, political analysts say.
Ironically, at the same time, Imran can’t afford betraying the public on his prime promises. The experts say, keeping in view the narrative of Imran Khan on accountability and his whole struggle against Sharif family after the revelations of Panama Papers, he cannot go slow on the accountability process as it would badly tarnish his image and diminish his popularity.
But again, screwing up of the political players too much would invite troubles for his fragile government – which has a ‘hairline’ majority gained through the support of the established fair-weather partners like the MQM.
People aware of the developments taking place on this front informed The Nation that some elements in the power corridors had attempted to broker a deal with jailed PML-N supreme leader Nawaz Sharif but it could not materialise as they wanted his exit from the system – as was done in the Musharraf’s rule – which was unacceptable to Mr Sharif.
But now the time for an NRO has passed and the PTI government is about to put its hand on power reins. The new government however will have to handle the corruption cases against Sharifs, Zardaris and their cronies very carefully.
Obviously, Imran Khan would be fully anticipating a strong reaction from both PPP and PML-N, who have a good strength in the parliament, when he presses ahead with their accountability.
Right now Nawaz Sharif, his daughter Maryam Nawaz and son-in-law Capt (r) Safdar, who all were convicted in a corruption reference, are serving their respective terms in Adiala Jail.
Shehbaz Sharif, the brother of Nawaz and president of PML-N, is also in hot waters as a couple of his blue-eyed bureaucrats including Ahad Cheema and Fawad Hassan Fawad are in NAB custody and facing investigations in scams pertaining to clean drinking water project and Ashiana Housing Scheme. If the upcoming PTI government keeps up the pace of these inquiries, Shehbaz would soon be in deep trouble.
On the other hand, Asif Ali Zardari and his sister Faryal Talpur are facing inquiry in a massive money laundering case amounting to at least 34 billion rupees. Other PPP people like Sharjeel Maimon and Dr Asim Hussain are also facing corruption charges.
In this situation, keeping in view the track record of Imran Khan and his past statements, there is no question of backtracking from all this or even slowing down of the cases.
The natural reaction of this screwing up of PML-N and PPP leaders would be in shape of protest in and outside the Parliament House, which these parties have already initiated in shape of ganging up against what they dub as blatant and massive rigging in the general elections.
Sharif, Zardari cases to haunt Imran