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Silence of the Lambs

It is not often that we see Pakistan’s political parties avoiding comment on a matter of national importance, but General (R) Raheel Sharif’s new appointment to lead a 39-country Saudi military alliance is one such issue where many of them are keeping mum. Members of both, the ruling party – Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) – and the opposition – the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) – were clearly hesitant to say anything on the record regarding this issue.

Newsline approached the PPP for comment, but received no official response from them. Some analysts believe this is because the PPP has reached a deal with the establishment and does not want to offend the military establishment by taking sides. While the PPP denies these rumours, the party’s silence on Raheel Sharif’s new ‘job’ does lead to speculation, especially in light of recent events related to Ayyan Ali, the return of Sharjeel Memon from Dubai, and the acceptance of Dr Asim Hussain’s bail plea by the Sindh High Court.

While…

Interview: Qamar Zaman Kaira

Why do you think the PPP was wiped out in the 2013 elections after being in power for five years? Why did it not do well anywhere except Sindh?

There are two dimensions to this. First of all, there was election management and manoeuvering. This is quite clear; both the PPP and the PTI have the same stance on this issue. Having said that, a perception was built, which wasn’t based on any reality. Sitting Chief Justice, Iftikhar Chaudhry, a section of the media, and the Muslim League in opposition, acting as a troika, tried to create a [negative] image of the PPP, and they were quite successful in demonising the party. We did not pay much attention to the media, and unfortunately, we paid for it as people bought into all of this.

They say that we did not do anything; that we were an administrative failure; that we were busy looting this country. Now let’s look at Pakistan in 2008 when we came to power, and in 2013 when we handed over power to another government. This will give you a rea…