When an individual assumes the highest elected public office in the land, it is inevitable that he or she will, during the tenure and decision making attached to it, become privy to information that is critically sensitive from national security point of view. That is one reason amongst others that such a person takes an oath to uphold and safe guard the security and integrity of the country through word and deed. The public office also makes this individual subject to the ‘Official Secrets Act’, which lays down deterrent punishment in case of violations. I cannot recall any instance, where a Prime Minister (in or out of office) has ever violated his oath or defied this Act – until now. Twice in his current stint, Mr. Nawaz Sharif has committed acts, which can be classified as detrimental to the security of the state, since they have strengthened the enemy narrative and force multiplied his exterior maneuver.
In both cases a media platform was used to create effects designed to demonize an institution that is held in high esteem by the nation for its patriotism and sacrifices in defense of the Motherland. The disqualified Prime Minister’s utterances did not surprise those, who have followed his political career. Introduced into politics and nurtured by a military dictator, he is ironically known to be obsessed with a vengeful hatred for men in uniform. Whether this obsession is with reference to his experiences with General Pervez Musharraf or it is fueled by financial interests across the border that erase the line separating patriotism from ‘sleeping with the enemy’ is a question that can be answered by reviewing the events of the last two years of Mr. Sharif’s tenure.
The disqualified Prime Minister’s pain can now be seen in his statements, his voice and his body language. He projects the image of a man, who is desperate in the knowledge that he has lost everything. He looks tired and drained of energy, often referring back to prompters to help find the right words during public speeches. His narrative is losing coherence as his daughter completely overshadows him during public meetings. This has given birth to a notion that it is Ms. Maryam Safdar, who is now calling the shots on behalf of her father. Political pundits have gone so far as to say that this young woman has in fact become PML N’s new center of gravity.
Mr. Nawaz Sharif’s latest interview with Cyril Almeida is to say the least nothing short of compromising Pakistan’s security interest and erases any doubts that one may have on the veracity of the ‘Dawn Leaks’ case. Here then is a former Prime Minister, who by virtue of the public office held by him, is privy to sensitive information. On being disqualified from office by the country’s apex court, he first threatens to make this information public and then carries out his threat. Not only is he unrepentant, but his party cronies including the sitting Head of Executive are speaking out in his defense.
We have a long history of going easy on individuals, who committed acts of treason, espoused rebellion and were known for their links with the enemies of Pakistan. We have suffered much pain by adopting this expedient approach, but do not appear to have learned our lessons. It is now up to our legal system to take note of what is happening. More importantly it is the nation that will shortly be provided with a window of opportunity to decide as to who will lead them for the next term.
The writer is a freelance columnist.