Pakistan has a sordid history of corrupt politicians and power hungry military dictators, but never before in its seven decade plus existence has the country been threatened by its own political elite to a point that jeopardizes its very existence. This week’s piece is a wakeup call to those, who continue to hold our political leadership in high esteem. These individuals naively consider themselves beneficiaries of good governance, while in actual fact they lack the wisdom and courage to see the truth.
The nation faced its first reality check during the Kargil Crisis, when our Prime Minister hurriedly answered a United States’ summons to come to Washington minus the military leadership. We then witnessed, what can only be termed as ‘a political defeat snatched from the jaws of a military victory’. I am aware of the possibility that by making this statement I am exposing myself to criticism from many quarters, but I have done so in the light of extensive discussions with individuals connected with the crisis. It was during one of these exchanges that someone from across the sea accused Pakistan of being the aggressor in Kargil in gross violation of the Simla Agreement. My response was as straight forward as could be under the circumstances, “How could we be categorized as precipitators of war and violators of the Simla Document, when this agreement had already been torn to shreds by Indian military excursions in Siachin in the nineteen eighties. I added that we had simply paid the enemy back in its own coinage.” There was utter silence as my words sank in. On return from the US, the PM ordered a complete withdrawal from Kargil, leaving the army no option, but to obey and mourn their fallen warriors.
Mr. Nawaz Sharif’s return to power was highlighted by adopting a soft attitude towards unprovoked line of control violations. This approach was hallmarked by an enigmatic silence as Indian troops killed innocent civilians in Pakistani territory – a silence compounded by the sudden flying visit of the religiously militant Indian PM to the Sharif Estate at Jaati Umra near Lahore on the occasion of a wedding.
Even when Kulbashan Yadav, a serving Indian Navy officer on deputation to RAW, was apprehended by own counter intelligence and confessed his country’s involvement in fomenting militancy and terrorist activity in Balochistan, our Head of Executive kept quiet. The eruption of the ‘Dawn Leaks’ case lent more fuel to a ‘horrifying’ notion already germinating in the minds of discerning citizens – a notion that questioned patriotism and failure to maintain national interest. ‘The Dawn Leaks’ scandal became breaking news, when a media cell functioning very close to the PM was reported to have leaked the contents of a classified meeting, wherein the Pakistan Army leadership was warned by the government to act against militants or face international isolation. The warning carried a déjà vu effect echoing the narrative that formed the core of India’s exterior maneuver against Pakistan.
When the Panama Scandal turned the world upside down, media began reporting a substantial Sharif Family investment in the Indian Steel Industry, followed by news that an Indian industrialist Mr. Jindal had paid a ‘spy thriller like call’ on Nawaz Sharif at Murree. As public criticism mounted, the former PM’s daughter justified the visit as a social call by an old family friend. Private media channels however saw much more behind the visit, terming it as efforts to get Kulbashan Yadav ‘off the hook’. With national opinion divided for and against Nawaz Sharif, a Supreme Court bench disqualified the PM from holding political or public office. The court also formed a JIT, the findings of which would become the basis for NAB to initiate a trial of the accused.
There can be no second opinion that a country’s security is inexorably linked to its economic and financial viability. As the ‘Panama Case’ progressed, we began reading about how corruption and self-interest had dragged Pakistan’s economy to almost irretrievable depths. Our treasury was near empty and the debt burden had increased to unbelievable figures. It was apparent that we had been lied to by the man responsible to keep the country financially healthy, but who happened to be a close relative of Mr. Nawaz Sharif.
It was perhaps divine mercy that our two strongest institutions stood firm and steady. One decided to clean up the mess, while the other ensured that our ideological and geographical borders remained secure. Perhaps our creator wanted us to see and understand the truth before the time came for us to make a choice. Did we want to continue with those, who had been tried and found wanting or did we want a change heralding the first step towards recovering our lost dreams.
The writer is a freelance columnist.