Nawaz Sharif and the PML-N government are trying their best to malign the army and the judiciary just for covering the corruption of the Sharif family. The former prime minister Nawaz Sharif is continuously speaking against the judiciary and the army. He is not willing to accept and abide by the orders of the apex court, which has ousted him from the office of prime minister in case of the Panama Leaks verdict.
Addressing a public gathering in Abbottabad, the PML-N leader Nawaz Sharif said that “no court’s decision can break the ties” between him and his following in Abbottabad. People speak of a ‘minus-Nawaz Sharif formula’, he said. “But Nawaz Sharif is an ideology and this ideology will bring revolutionary change across Pakistan,” he claimed. “Nawaz Sharif is not a loser. If he was a loser, you and I would not be friends,” he told the crowd. “Will you support me in this struggle?” The ousted premier claimed that not a single penny’s worth of corruption had been proved against him or his family members. “When all efforts to do so were unsuccessful, the SC said that I did not take a salary from my son, so I was disqualified,” he said. He railed against the apex court, which he claimed had no qualms about taking an oath from former president Pervez Musharraf. “That’s why the caravan keeps getting looted,” he said, referring to a small quotation in the SC order on the judgement, “and why democracy kept going off the rails.” “Lots of games like this have been played time and time again,” he warned. “Everyone is awake and they will take account of each and everything.”
Nawaz Sharif, who is an acclaimed and convicted corrupt leader, is using abusive language against the institutions shamelessly. The most tragic thing is that almost all the politicians and ministers belonging to the PML-N are also supporting Nawaz Sharif and criticising the army and the judiciary. They are trying their level best to have a clash with the institutions. Because, in this clash rests Nawaz Sharif’s political survival. It is a very sad, and dangerous thing that an elected government is trying to involve the army and the judiciary in politics. This strategy has developed a unique situation in the country, which can be summed up as follows:-
1: The Parliament has lost its respect among the people as the elected leaders are not able to run the Parliament efficiently. In spite of following and executing laws, all ministers and politicians from the PML-N are busy in providing the VVIP protocol to Nawaz Sharif and his family members. The PML-N government is doing nothing except to protect the Sharif family and its corruption. Even, the Prime Minister Shahid Khaqqan Abbasi has categorically declared that “Nawaz Sharif is still my prime minister”. It is a violation of the constitution and the Supreme Court’s verdict . In fact, the PM Shahid Khaqqan Abbasi is a helpless and powerless prime minister who wants to conceal his own corruption by supporting Nawaz Sharif.
2: Pakistan is perhaps the only country in the world that has a convicted and absconder finance minister. The Finance Minister Ishaq Dar is refusing to resign and has left the country. There is no one who can force him to resign as he has the full support of Nawaz Sharif. So, the concept of “might is right” or “the powerful people have different law” is being proven right in Pakistan.
3: The ruling party is trying to present itself as a victim of the establishment. The party is not saying anything about Nawaz Sharif and Sharif family’s massive corruption and plundering the country and its poor people over the years.
4: Other political parties, especially the PPP, the MQM Pakistan, etc., are also trying hard to protect their leaders who are “either caught in the accountability net or fear they might be the next target in line”. So, all the political parties except the PTI, the JI, and PAT, are united to defend and protect their corruption. They are endeavouring to halt the procedure of accountability and trial in the country. They have become so unprincipled and unethical that they have voted for a convicted leader to become eligible for party leadership in the Upper House as well as the Lower House. In their eyes, democracy is a name of protecting the rights of the ruling class. If the judiciary tries to stop the ruling elite from corruption or clips their power, they become united to defame the institutions. Those who have been charged and convicted by the apex court are rejecting the verdict openly in the public. Is it not a mockery of justice?
After the address of Nawaz Sharif, the Pakistan Army’s spokesman Major General Asif Ghafoor has also spoken out on the prevailing situation in the country on November 23. During an interview on a private TV channel, the Director General, Inter Services Public Relations (ISPR), Major General Asif Ghafoor, said: “selective application of the Constitution shouldn’t happen, and keeping the Constitution supreme in its true spirit is everyone’s responsibility”. He also said no individual is greater than an institution, and no institution is more important than the state. The armed forces of Pakistan are an institution of the state and whatever decision the government makes, the army will act according to it. He said whenever the government has called the army, it has fulfilled its responsibility. Referring to the Islamabad sit-in, he said it would be better to resolve the situation amicably, but whatever course of action the government decided would be implemented. The ISPR chief said intelligence-based anti-terrorist operations are continuing across the country. These operations will improve in the days to come. “No army can succeed without the support from its nation,” he said. The DG ISPR called Afghanistan an example of a country where the government has failed to control the situation. “This is causing a security gap there. We are fencing our border, but the situation will not improve unless the other side also takes steps.” On the political situation and the statements of some politicians, he only said the political process should continue. “Let the political leadership and parliament do what they do.” On convicted Indian spy Kulbhushan Jadhav being allowed to meet his family, he said the Foreign Office has already issued an official statement, while adding that there is no harm in letting him meet his mother on humanitarian grounds. “There will be no effect on the case.” Earlier, Major Gen Ghafoor said the constitution gives the right to freedom of expression, but the same constitution bars the ridicule of some institutions, because if institutions weaken, the tasks they are doing will also weaken. He added that the constitution forbids any “comments that damage the morale of the forces, especially given the situation they are in”.
Major Gen Ghafoor’s statement clearly manifests that the Pakistan army holds the Constitution, and its spirit, as its foremost objective. It wants the spirit of the Constitution to be implemented fully and there should be no selective application of the Constitution. In the eyes of the army, the State is all and no person or institution is bigger than it.
Shaheen Sehbai, a prominent journalist, writes: “Analysed objectively, General Ghafoor is saying that the law will take its course, the Constitution will be followed, and there will be no interference either for, or against, anyone. Simply speaking, there will be no NRO for either the deposed PM or those who may in future come in the grip of the law for their actions. After these lines have been clearly drawn by the Army, including some unspoken red lines, it will now be on the politicians to understand where the khakis stand and what they might or might not do. The unspoken red lines are also not difficult to understand. When General Ghafoor says the “selective application” of the Constitution must stop, he means the manner in which institutions are being targeted should, and possibly would, not be allowed. He is also hinting at the use, or misuse, of Parliamentary strength to protect, glorify and promote persons who have been disqualified and are being tried for a long list of crimes. This is not the spirit of the Constitution. When he says categorically that there is nothing larger or higher than the State, only dimwits would fail to get the message clearly. The interests of the State, he is making it clear, are supreme and the Army is committed to protect these interests. It has been speculated several times that the strategy of the ousted prime minister and his family has been to bring the Army into the ongoing fracas so that leaders caught in financial crimes and illegal acts could become political victims and could claim some kind of martyrdom. General Ghafoor is simply saying this will not happen as the Constitution and the laws will play out their course. It is obvious that this will increase the desperation and sense of defeat among the guilty parties, whether in power or out of it. They could double their efforts and magnify their provocative acts to challenge the State….As Gen Ghafoor repeatedly pointed out, the Army has its plate full to counter threats within the country and from enemies outside. It is a fulltime job and the khakis do not want to be distracted by political instability at home. But having said that, if some disgruntled people, who have been caught by accident or default and failed to prove their innocence, feel they can bulldoze the State into accommodating their selfish interests, the Army is not closing the door on doing “whatever may be needed’ to protect the State and its interests. The message is clear and those who fail to get it may regret their decision for a long time”.
The ball is, now, in the court of the politicians, especially Nawaz Sharif and Asif Ali Zardari. They should realise the gravity of the situation. They should give due respect to the institutions, if they want to save democracy in Pakistan. But, there is every chance that Nawaz Sharif and the PML-N will not obey the orders of the court in the coming days as Nawaz Sharif’s political survival lies in the confrontation with the institutions, especially the army and the judiciary. So, wait for the final round in Pakistan!