Luck in life is uncontrollable!

It was sheer luck that a poverty stricken, extremely vulnerable woodcutter stumbled upon a secret cave and a single phrase “open sesame” transformed his world from rags to riches. This medieval tale famous by the title of “Ali Baba and Forty Thieves” transpires in real life too, where Imran Khan found the magical phrase of open sesame in the form of Panama leaks and has brought about turmoil in Nawaz Sharif’s empire. The same story is on display once more; the only difference this time is that it’s from riches to rags.

Besides the fact, Imran Khan is not at all a politician, but somehow the other, unseen powers want him to stay in the game. He made the successful identification of Panama charges against the ruling party and with persistent determination of the long held court proceedings and trials under the Joint Investigation Team (JIT) are seemingly favourable for him. He is the man behind the campaign to make the Panama case alive, otherwise it would not have lasted longer than a few breaths.

A quick glance at history tells us that Sharif is nearly 17 years senior to Imran Khan in politics, but both know each other from their early days in cricket. Interestingly, politics were never the first choice for either Sharif or Imran. But, today the scenario has altogether changed by having both as centre figures in politics, especially after 2013; the main contest is between the two for the top slot.

Nawaz and his brother opted for politics on the advice of their father Mian Muhammad Sharif, although, he kept himself away from politics on the advice from some of the cabinet members of the late General Zia-ul-Haq. However, he decided to send his sons in the battlefield of politics. Under the Zia rule, a lobby was established based on anti-Bhutto sentiments with reference to nationalisation, which also affected Sharif’s business. It convinced, indeed, instigated the elder Sharif to become a political force.

Imran had also not given thought to enterpolitics until he suffered difficulties under Benazir Bhutto’s government in establishing Shaukat Khanum Cancer Hospital. He joined politics in 1996, when a group of his old friends launched the “Insaf Party” in Lahore.

It is important to note that if business has helped Sharifs in politics to keep the ball rolling and learn tactics to control politics by consolidating their position in the biggest province, then cricket has also played a significant role for Imran in two ways; teaching him to exert and sustain pressure on opponents even if you are on the verge of defeat.

In addition, political episodes have shown that Imran staged a comeback after back to back setbacks. He encountered his first defeat in the 2013 elections even after his forecast of a landslide victory for his party Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI). It was followed by his second defeat, when after 126 days of a sit-in, the commission rejected his plea. But, cricket experience has helped him and his workers to keep morale high even at the lowest ebbs. As mentioned earlier, there is some unseen power that helped Imran to step into the arena of golden opportunity while balling a sixer through right hit of Panama leaks in the headlines. He carefully strategisedin making a level playing field by highlighting the names of Sharif’s children in Panama leaks and then rightly creating hype against Sharifs, both on the streets and on the media. He was successful in moving the Supreme Court against the Sharifs.

In the 1992 World Cup, Pakistan had no chance of even reaching the semi-finals, but a mere half point sent them to the semis and from that point, Imran never looked back.

It is somewhat the same situation for the Sharifs. Nawaz Sharif has experienced many ups and downs in his political career where in some instances, luck was on his side and on others there were grey days. But circumstances and difficult experiences made him a strong politician. Although, he is an alleged product of the establishment who was been used against the PPP and the late Benazir Bhutto in the days of Islami Jamhoori Ittehad (IJI) in 1998, the events gave birth to Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz. Initially, PML-N had been a party of the establishment, but after October 1999, it converted into an anti-establishment party. And later on, he also signed the Charter of Democracy with Benazir Bhutto (BB).

Nawaz first came into power in November 1990 under the umbrella of IJI, took major initiatives for Pakistan especially infrastructure development projects. But besides his efforts, the pressure from within the ruling coalition and the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) accusing IJI of coming to power with the support of the military establishment, differences between Nawaz Sharif and then President Ghulam Ishaq emerged, which lead to an unceremonious dismissal of his government in 1993.

He made a second entry in 1997 as elected Prime Minister with a so-called “heavy mandate” following the dismissal of BB’s government but besides the nuclear programme and signing a peace treaty with India, his rule did not last long due to the outbreak of Kargil war in 1999. Thus, his ruling government was given a farewell and was toppled by General (retd) Pervez Musharraf, whom he had appointed as the Army Chief. After a short imprisonment, he went to exile in Saudi Arabia in 2000 after an alleged agreement under which he was barred from returning and engaging in politics for the next 10 years.

He made the third entrance on the political ground amid the chaos of the 2007 emergency imposed by Musharraf and the sacking of Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry. In this situation, Nawaz got permission to return to his homeland with a green signal for his party to take part in the 2008 elections. Subsequently, he secured second place in the elections behind PPP; the two parties initially formed a coalition government which lasted for a few months. It was followed by Nawaz’slong march against the PPP government. This march aimed to press the government for the restoration of sacked judges, which was successful as the judges were reinstated. It was again a successful hit at the end for Nawaz’s party, as it was the gateway for his third rule in Pakistan’s democracy.

The above stated facts clearly indicate, that if luck is not with Imran Khan, do you really think any morality can send Nawaz Sharif home? In my opinion which is solely pragmatic, sometimes we have to accept the irrational rationality which is seen in the Pakistani political drama.

The suspense of the Panama proceedings is over, but the legal battle fought will certainly change the political climate before the next elections. Now, the question is, will Nawaz Sharif survive?

Whether you agree or disagree with this notion, I have already confessed it is sometimes irrational rationality which makes life completely unpredictable and control is just an illusion and it makes one feel small and powerless.

The writer is a Master Trainer/Advisor at    the Pakistan Industrial Technical Assistance Centre Lahore, under the Federal Ministry                 of Industries and Production, Islamabad.