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Nawaz’s crowning glory – Fasi Zaka

Nawaz Sharif has finally achieved what no one has been able to do in politics for the past two years, which is to make Asif Ali Zardari’s PPP look good by comparison. He inadvertently whitewashed them when he decided to skinny-dip in mud and rake it simultaneously over constitutional reforms.

Nawaz’s backtracking on the constitutional reforms’ issue seemed bizarre when it played itself out and especially insincere by way of his explanations on the reasons for doing so.

Mr Sharif’s main objection is rooted in a misunderstanding, probably willful, populist and deceptive, on the nature of government. When he talks about certain permanent institutions and offices, he is speaking of the individuals and not the posts.

First, he has befuddled himself by thinking Dr Babar Awan will be the law minister forever. That “Dr” Babar Awan has made it this far is a miracle considering he has a one-year distance PhD from an institution dissolved and fined for fraud. But, if Nawaz has an objection, he needs to articulate it in terms of the law ministry being involved in the recruitment of judges and not Babar Awan.

Second, in the desire to appease the chief justice on the same issue he makes the same mistake. It rings hollow when he says he wants the office of the chief justice involved, primarily because he doesn’t want the chief justice’s office, but in a rather sycophant fashion, wants the chief justice himself involved. Had the chief justice been Sajjad Ali Shah or Dogar, Nawaz would be singing a different tune.

For those of us who have been extremely disappointed with the PPP’s mismanagement, corruption and cronyism, in addition to their willful delaying tactics to all things related to judges, for the longest time Nawaz seemed like an elder statesman who could eventually take the reigns.

The press in general has fallen into the trap. As long as Nawaz was quiet, the press projected rather flattering presumptions on what motivates the PML-N. But as of late, when the PML-N does speak, most realise they don’t like what they hear.

Be it Shahbaz’s veiled support for the Taliban, or more currently, Nawaz’s obvious shortsightedness and Punjab-centric behaviour. Nawaz does not become a champion of rule of law simply because the current phase of judicial activism has worked in his favour. While Nawaz has been on the right side of history in supporting the lawyer’s movement, in reality it is fast becoming evident that it was just an opportunistic coincidence of interests.

Add to it the Pakhtunkhwa issue. The demand for changing the name of the province is not as Nawaz makes it out to be. Any party with an electoral interest in NWFP, but which fails to capture the Pakhtun votes, has sided against this. By simple force of majority, the name ought to be changed, and the reasons for not doing so are easily challenged since they rest on demographics. The Pakhtuns are in the majority, much like the other provinces which are named after the majority ethnic groups. To deny them this is blatantly unfair.

That being said, the macho chest-beating of the ANP’s Ghulam Ahmed Bilour’s over the issue of Pakhtunkhwa that they may choose the Bengali model evokes some of the unarticulated and historical fears about why the rest of the county may not want the name change. But it’s rich posturing from a man whose party’s leader fled his hometown to avoid dealing with the Taliban, leaving the residents defenceless, or from a party happy to let the Taliban have Swat so they could keep their heads in the sand. Talk is cheap, but sadly it can be incendiary.

My own preference would have been, on an ideological basis, that the Pakhtuns give up their demands to accommodate a minority in a show of inner federal behaviour, demonstrating that they would not do what the center has historically done to the smaller provinces, and in this case not do to a smaller ethnic group inside the province what has historically been done to them. Sadly that won’t happen in Pakistan, at least now.

Anyhow, Nawaz shouldn’t worry too much. The microscope is about to be lifted back to Zardari thanks to the delay he requested in announcing the findings of the UN report on the murder of Benazir Bhutto. In an arena of shortsightedness, Nawaz and Zardari are the kings.

The writer is a Rhodes scholar and former academic. Email:

Source: The News, April 01, 2010

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  • Contradiction in terms —Nusrat Afghani

    The representatives of the people are the real rulers, as provided in the constitution of the country. Consequently, there arises no question of involving any non-elected authority of the superior judiciary to decide the fate of the people

    For the first time
    since former prime minister Nawaz Sharif was overthrown in 1999, he is now largely being denounced by political circles, analysts and civil society for his shocking press conference. However, political analysts who are familiar with every faction of the Muslim League are not surprised.

    Addressing the media, Mr Sharif insisted upon consultation with the Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) on constitutional amendments relating to the appointment of judges belonging to the superior judiciary. This resulted in him giving the impression of having clandestine links with one of the pillars of the state. The thought of the PML-N’s leader being a spokesman for the judiciary was even disliked by the elements who had declared parliament as being a gathering of illiterate landlords, smugglers and thieves.

    The anticipated draft of the proposed 18th Amendment to the constitution not only contains the procedure for appointment of judges to the higher judiciary and the scheme of transfer of powers from the presidency to parliament, but also contains provisions for renaming of NWFP, replacement of the concurrent list of powers by delivering the same to the provinces and, above all, the removal of amendments in Article Seven of the constitution inserted by military dictator General Ziaul Haq. The proposed amendments could have assured the transition of the country from a de facto military dictatorship to a bourgeois democracy, causing serious harm to the political power of the establishment. Hence the hostility on behalf of the military and civil bureaucracy was expected. No one was more suited for this entire fiasco than the head of a party formed by the worst kind of dictator Pakistan has ever had. The media claimed that certain, alleged, secret meetings between Shahbaz Sharif and the authorities within the establishment were part of the game. The question remains: is the confession of mistakes and blunders made by Mr Sharif a likely story?

    Since the elections of 2008, after the assassination of a key character of the Charter of Democracy (CoD), Benazir Bhutto, Mr Sharif never raised his voice for the enforcement of the terms and conditions of the CoD. Instead, he kept himself limited to the restoration of those judges who had been ousted by an army general. It is no secret that due to their hostility towards General Musharraf, the Sharif brothers had no alternative but to oppose the military dictatorship and sign the CoD. No doubt Mr Sharif, time and again, expressed his views opposing the military establishment, but keeping in view the lack of theoretical approach and political vision as well as the class structure of the PML-N, it was impossible for Mr Sharif to remain firm on his claims. A person who — after the sudden death of General Zia — openly acknowledged himself as Zia’s true political successor in interest, could never really firmly stand upon the amendment condemning the most terrible kind of military dictatorship in Asia. In the early years of the 21st century, many political analysts astonished me when they insisted that the PML-N had taken a u-turn. In fact, saying that the Muslim League (of every brand) is a party opposing political interference in the establishment and secret agencies is a contradiction in terms.

    Following the resignation of General Musharraf — and even during his regime — when the movement for the restoration of the judiciary was in full swing, Nawaz and his partners deliberately presented a wrong formula: an independent judiciary is necessary for the success of the democratic process. Contrary to this, all over the world democracy has always provided surety for the independence of the judiciary. Since then, the PML-N and its unnatural allies projected this vague formula to resist political forces and restrain them from raising certain, vital political issues. Citing that in a bourgeois society, the judiciary can never go against state interests, Nawaz Sharif made efforts to place the democratic institution under the umbrella of a state institution, making the former act upon the advice of the latter. The same can be said in the matter of consultation with the CJP. The arguments of a right-wing party that the consultation of the CJP in providing a procedure for the appointment of judges in the higher judiciary would hold back any possible clash between institutions carry no weight at all. If this principle is accepted by the government, then consultation will be required with inspectors general of law enforcement agencies, directors general of the secret services, chairpersons of NAB and FBR and chief secretaries in the appointment or posting of their subordinates. With due respect, the CJP does not represent the people of Pakistan. The representatives of the people are the real rulers, as provided in the constitution of the country. Parliament even possesses absolute power to eliminate the existing judicial structure or to curtail the powers and jurisdiction of the judiciary. Consequently, there arises no question of involving any non-elected authority of the superior judiciary to decide the fate of the people. The judiciary is for the people; the people are not for the judiciary. If any sacredness is given to the judiciary, it is only to provide justice to the people and enforce the law enacted by the people through their elected representatives.

    Whether it is a warning on behalf of some forces working behind the curtain, or the political liquidation of Mr Sharif and company, it is clear that the popular leader of Punjab has staked his political career.

    President Zardari often uses the claim of non-state elements allegedly functioning to destabilise the democratic government of Pakistan, but now it is an open secret that the establishment and dominant conservative elements within the same plan to run the country according to their own desires. Pakistan’s Afghan policy remained the reason behind political upsets in the recent past and, in the same context, the supremacy of parliament and more provincial autonomy might be reasons for further political deadlock.\04\01\story_1-4-2010_pg3_4

  • The support shown by the leadership for a particular political party is not only condemnable but it is a serious blow on all the efforts this society and army has put in against terrorism. We have lost almost 5000 precious lives and someone would say we have the same agenda. It’s very unfortunate.