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Nawaz Sharif ne apna zameer baich diya – by Ahsan Abbas Shah

نواز شریف نے اپنا ضمیر بیچ دِیا
سید احسن عباس رضوی

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Abdul Nishapuri


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  • Great poem.

    Here is an apt analysis of Nawaz Sharif and his N-league’s immunity to change by Mosharraf Zaidi (The News, 30 March 2010):

    Despite having two years to reconstitute the image and the reality of the PML-N as a family owned enterprise, Nawaz Sharif still owns the PML-N — both as the party’s image, and as its reality.

    In Punjab, despite enjoying uncontested grassroots political support for the better part of two years, the PML-N provincial government has been unable to manage its image entirely. The provincial government is hardly ever seen as one that is responsible for anything positive, despite having several achievements, topmost being the fostering national integrity through its reasonable positions on the NFC award. Instead, in living rooms and on coffee tables nationwide, the Punjab government is seen as a bickering and clumsy operation, which is easily upended by the irrepressible Salmaan Taseer. The most visible frontman for the Punjab government is often not Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif, but rather his law minister Rana Sanaullah — a political figure that is now firmly associated with sectarian outfits in Punjab. The provincial government can cry hoarse about the moral equivalence of Salman Taseer himself courting sectarian parties in Punjab, but in politics, as in life, it is perception that is reality. The reality is that the PML-N offers no challenge at all to the PPP’s skilled manipulation of the news cycle. The overall impact on the PML-N getting routinely outmanoeuvred by Taseer in Punjab is in fact quite significant.

    After the lawyers’ movement, one of the political demographic groups that the PML-N had the potential to win and to keep was the educated Pakistani urbanite. Too many of these former PPP sympathizers were deeply disappointed with President Zardari’s handling of the chief justice. Too many of them were seeking a renewed democratic sizzle in the Pakistani political mainstream — the kind of sizzle that had not been felt since 1988. Nawaz Sharif’s performance during the last months of the lawyers’ movement was encouraging to these Pakistanis. But this demographic is not be a solid bet for any party. From an electoral standpoint the group may be of only minor significance, but in terms of the overall national narrative, it has an outsized influence.

    Getting knocked down and knocked around by Salman Taseer is bad news for the PML-N among urban Pakistanis in particular because it demonstrates a basic inability to negotiate the political narrative in the country. Over the least two years, instead of articulating a clear and winning position on national security, the PML-N has become known for being anti-Musharraf and pro-Taliban. That is not a winning position at all. It is disabling, to say the least. PML-N leaders outside of the Sharif family are routinely seen on television defending their party’s anti-terror position. But what kind of a message machine is Nawaz Sharif running in 2010 if he has to cart out Ahsan Iqbal, Siddique-ul-Farooque, Saad Rafique and Khawaja Asif twice a night to repeat that position?

    Now, with the most significant constitutional change anticipated in decades, the Noon League has gone ahead and undermined the last, and most significant pillar of its political strength in the country. It has built its entire politics since March 2009 around restoring the Constitution to a form that reflects its origins, and conforms to the Charter of Democracy. Instead of seizing the opportunity to remove the military’s fingerprints from Pakistan’s constitution, it has handed a massive victory to those very fingerprints.

    As per pattern of course, it has done so in the most ugly and politically damaging way. One of its problems is the name of the NWFP province. By opposing the ANP’s proposal it claims it is standing up for speakers of the Hindko and Potowari languages. Can speakers of Brohi, Seraiki and Urdu as their first-languages also expect this kind of moral probity from the PML-N for their languages? Of course not.

    Over ten years ago, Nawaz Sharif was wrongly ejected from power. An over-centralization of decision-making and a habit of not listening to dissent within and outside his party made his government in 1999 immune to change. So much has happened since October 1999, but perhaps, to Pakistan’s great misfortune, very little has happened in Raiwind. The Nawaz Sharif League it seems is still, immune to change.