It’s Time to Stem the Rot, Not Fuel It

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Hafeez Khan

Once the façade of piousness was removed, the Sharifs scrambled to plaster the facts with lies

Grudgingly, credit has to be given where due. In my five decades as a political worker, I have not witnessed such levels of deceit as PML (N) is practicing. Their ability to create a narrative from nothing, packaging, and promoting it all levels is unmatched. The most effective propaganda machine of Nazi Germany at times pales before the sophistication of PML (N) onslaughts.
As one of the most enduring politicians on Pakistan’s political landscape, Nawaz Sharif’s hold on power corridors has seen its ups and downs. Thus far, he seems to emerge after each debacle more formidable than before. What is his trade secret? His political birth is attributable to the Establishment at that time. General Zia was seeking to break the stranglehold of rural gentry on Pakistani politics. He chose a scion of a business house that was known for its subservience to bureaucracy in the early eighties. Having it morph into becoming a stool pigeon for the uniforms was a short journey.
He was the longest-serving Prime Minister, totaling nine years in three stints. Each time, he was booted out for corruption. The wealth that he and the rest of the Sharif family accumulated nefariously is immense; spread around the globe. He has put it to good use to weasel his way back into power. Dwelling on his first three decades makes an interesting read of palace intrigues. However, I will confine myself to post Panama events that have taken a new twist in recent days.
Muslim League under Quaid-e-Azam founded Pakistan. It attracted electables into its fold. After the Quaid, it became the platform of choice for dictators after takeovers; they needed to legitimize their rule. It started with Ayub Khan followed by Zia and Musharraf. Nawaz Sharif took over the mantle of the Muslim League naming his faction after his own name. Cobbled together to counter Bhutto’s PPP, it attracted electables in great numbers. The Sharifs consolidated their family’s grip on the leadership of PML (N).
When in power, the Sharifs made deep inroads in Punjab and the Center in bureaucracy, police, judiciary, and other citadels of power. Their criteria were neither performance nor merit, it was personal loyalty. While vacuuming the resources of the State into their coffers they made sure they distributed a part to their lackeys. A blatant example highlighted in the recently exposed audio of Maryam demonstrates how media was manipulated, bullied, and bribed. Their loyalists continue to deliver to their masters through promoting falsehoods and obstructing the sitting Government.
Under managed media, the Sharifs were able to deny all wrongdoings including ownership of London properties. A third-party exposé, the Panama Papers sheared this veil of hypocrisy. Once the façade of piousness was removed, the Sharifs scrambled to plaster the facts with lies. Their trump card was the false Qatari letter justifying their wealth and money trail. Their stranglehold on power was broken and Nawaz and Maryam landed in jail.
Behind bars, the plotting continued. Nawaz was able to feign sickness through false reports creating enough panic in the Government and Establishment to get rid of this hot potato. Upon arrival in London, he miraculously recovered without treatment. He utilized his perch to launch attacks on military leadership and other State institutions, harming national interests.
Their declared strategy enunciated by Maryam states resistance leads to negotiations. The louder the din more chaos it creates. PML (N) is surviving through blackmail and false narratives created in the media. All their onslaughts were extremely well-orchestrated, supported by their lackeys and beneficiaries. It is evident that the Sharifs are using their time-tested formulae of attacking, creating chaos, and then reach a settlement. That is the only way they can stay relevant and keep their support intact.
Videos of the convicting judge could have led to relief and retrial of Nawaz and Maryam if they had been submitted to the courts and found authentic. They were never presented because they were fake. The recent audio of former Chief Justice and an affidavit by a former judge were meant to bully the High Court Islamabad. Their bluff was called by the Chief Justice. All the hype surrounding the release of this Machiavellian scheme has dissipated. Maryam boasts of having many more videos. Such conduct is nothing short of blackmail that should be termed a criminal enterprise inviting redressal.
The return of “Coach” Nawaz Sharif is center stage these days. “Deal” is the buzzword of bigwigs of his Party. Somebody needs to jolt the Sharifs back to reality. He has no bargaining chips left. It is a new breed of Pakistanis he has to deal with. NS may be on the verge of being denied residence in the UK. If deported he will have to come to Pakistan, not as a victor but as an absconder.
It is a struggle for leadership of PML (N) between the two brothers. One is convicted the other could face the same fate. Muslim League is still a very viable party. Their genuine leadership needs to free the Party from the Shackles of Sharifs. Their attempt to appear as “victims” has gained no traction amongst the masses. Sharifsfraudulent activities stand exposed. The accountability process is being sabotaged from within the system by their beneficiaries. In 2022 PM IK should focus on making the process meaningful that yields results. Name-calling is not enough. Proof of the pudding is in eating it.