PML-N’s Gujranwala rally

Mian Nawaz Sharif, chief of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), addressed a rally in Gujranwala on the last day of 2011. Mr Sharif vowed to make Pakistan an economic power if his party came into power. “My team will bring revolution in Pakistan,” he said. The word ‘revolution’ is much abused in Pakistan. Our politicians are promising ‘reforms’ while using the word ‘revolution’. Those claiming to bring about a revolution have no understanding of the real meaning of this word and would do well to read Chairman Mao’s definition of a ‘revolution’.

Mr Sharif criticised the government for its economic mismanagement and rising inflation. No doubt the government has not been able to control the prices of essential items and bring an end to the energy crisis, but Mr Sharif should remember that part of the responsibility for the government’s failure lies with its coalition partners as well as the opposition parties. When the coalition government led by the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) tried to implement the Reformed General Sales Tax (RGST) as per the pledge made to the IMF, it was assailed by all and sundry. Had the RGST been implemented, it would have ensured that the IMF package would not be hindered and it would have also benefited Pakistan’s dwindling economy. It is far too easy to complain about the economic mess but it is difficult to admit to one’s own follies. Mr Sharif also claimed that corruption has reached its pinnacle in the country while completely forgetting that his own party is accused of the exact same thing. Granted that corruption is a malaise affecting Pakistan but it is not just limited to one political party or just the political class – corruption is rampant all over the country and every institution, be it the military, the judiciary, the public sector, the private sector, is equally affected by it. An end to corruption can only be brought out by systematic reforms and cannot be done overnight. The PPP-led government is not responsible for making the country “a beggar” as per Mr Sharif’s claims. From day one Pakistan has had to rely on foreign aid. Even when Mr Sharif was the prime minister, twice, we had to rely on economic and military aid.
Mr Sharif said that “no compromise would be made on the matters relating to national honour”, but what constitutes ‘national honour’ has never been defined. ‘National honour’ was used to attack Mr Sharif after the Kargil fiasco. He should remember that the right-wing brigade attaches national honour with everything that goes in favour of the military establishment. It is important that all political parties realise that unconstitutional forces are out to get them. Instead of criticising each other for the sake of criticism and/or scoring points, they should all realise who the real enemy is.

(my editorial in Daily Times)

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