Fair is foul, and foul is fair

Something is rotten in the state of Pakistan. Or so Mr Nawaz Sharif’s historic blunder on March 25 would have us believe. Mr Sharif failed to give a persuasive argument that day. Since there was no justification for his actions, the PML-N went into damage control mode right away. Ishaq Dar has now assured Raza Rabbani that the PML-N would sort out this mess in due course of time. The judicial issue has been laid to rest, to a certain extent at least, while the issue of renaming the NWFP is inching closer to an agreement. The PML-N must realise that this is important for the Pakhtuns and we should not disappoint them on this issue. It is still not too late to settle this matter.

The rumour mills are abuzz with speculations that the ‘pressure’ on Nawaz Sharif emanated from judicial quarters. Whether this is true or not can only be ascertained once Mr Sharif comes clean about it. So far, he has not been forthcoming on this aspect of the matter. If true, it indicates that somebody tried to interfere in the functioning of parliament. This directly challenges the sovereignty and supremacy of that august body. For the first time in our history, parliament is trying to establish its supremacy. It cannot, and should not be held hostage by anyone, be it the judiciary or the executive. In the light of the past, it could be that the forces inimical to strengthening democracy are up to their old tricks. There have been many hurdles in the path towards democracy and Pakistan’s history is full of the immense struggle waged by the people against military dictatorships and authoritarian rule. Whenever there has been a coup by the military, it has always been supported by other state institutions, especially the judiciary that has regularly endorsed martial laws over the years. Presently, the military is in no position to directly intervene, but there is no guarantee that the extra-constitutional collaborators are not actively at work trying to undermine the democratic process.

The whole nation was simply shell-shocked after Mian sahib’s u-turn on the constitutional reforms, but Mr Sharif is adamant that he did not do anything wrong and has no regrets whatsoever. There were all kinds of speculations after Mr Sharif expressed his reservations on the proposed judicial appointments procedure as well as the renaming of NWFP. There was an adverse reaction from all quarters, including from within the PML-N. In a press conference on Saturday, Nawaz Sharif denied the rumours about receiving a phone call from unknown quarters. Either Mr Sharif did not think it through before he decided to speak up against the constitutional reforms and did not expect such a strong reaction, or he was under so much pressure that despite knowing that this would not go down well, he had no choice. This obviously leads one to speculate where that pressure came from. These questions are still unanswered. Living in denial is a norm with the PML-N, be it the ‘deal’ Mian Nawaz Sharif struck with General Musharraf to stay out of politics for 10 years in lieu of his ‘self-exile’ to Saudi Arabia or the presence of militants in Punjab. If he thinks that the citizens of Pakistan can be fooled, he should think again. To thine own self be true, Mr Sharif. You owe an explanation to the people of this country, to its polity, and to parliament; the sooner it comes, the better.

(my editorial in Daily Times)

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