Nawaz Sharif wrote his obit
By Faraz Ahmad
Former Prime Minister of Pakistan Mian Nawaz Sharif ousted from power by a deceitful judgment of Pakistan Supreme Court two months back is facing the same existential crisis which confronted exactly forty years ago Pakistan’s first duly elected Prime Minister Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto. Only, the Pakistani military establishment’s hand maiden the judiciary of the Mulke Khudadade Pakistan (God’s own gift) won’t dare hang Mian sahib because he happens to be a Punjabi. The rest of the story is almost identical to what befell Bhutto, the charismatic, aristocratic and arrogant connoisseur of good life who carried alongside his populist symbolism addressing the poor, deprived and mercilessly exploited sections of the Pakistani society.
Mian Nawaz Sharif was a creation of that mullah in Khaki , the cock eyed General who fought no wars, Mohammad Ziaul Haq who ruled Pakistan with an iron hand in collusion with the mullahs and a kept judiciary. It was Zia, who in a bid to contain the continued popularity of Bhutto even after his death, made a young Mian sahib a minister in the Punjab government apprehending Benazir’s rising popularity in the late 70s and early 80s.
But soon as Zia was bombed into smithereens in the Presidential plane in October 1988, Benazir rode to power in an election held after 11 years’ gap. But the Pakistan army did not trust her for two reasons. First she was a woman which the patriarchal conservative mullahs of Pakistan could not digest. Besides she had been reared by her father on some amount of considerably diluted liberalism and secularism, an anathema to Pakistan’s mullahs for whom any such trait is to date Kufr which made Bhutto and Benazir Kafirs and Kafirs for them lived and ruled in India so by implication Bhutto and Benazir too were Indian agents. They even carried an insidious campaign that Bhutto’s mother was actually a Hindu woman whom his father Shahnawaz had secretly married. Worse Benazir’s mother Nusrat happened to be a Shia Muslim, another red rag for the Wahabi Sunni sect to which Zia too belonged.
It is worth mentioning because all this was brought out against Bhutto when he decided to take on the Pakistan Army and successfully negotiated with Indira Gandhi to take back over 90,000 Prisoners of War interned in India after Pakistan was defeated by India in 1971-72 war and liberation of Bangla Desh.
Initially after the historical 1969 elections when Sheikh Mujibur Rahman’s Awami League won an overwhelming majority in Pakistan National Assembly by virtue of sweeping then East Pakistan which had more seats because of greater population density, Bhutto was an accomplice in the excesses committed against Bengalis and therefore when eventually General Yahya Khan had to step down after the humiliating dismemberment of Pakistan, Bhutto created a history of sorts by becoming the first civilian Martial Law Dictator perhaps anywhere in the world.
But as things progressed and Bhutto decided to push the army behind the barracks, introduce some administrative reforms to set the Pakistan bureaucracy and later the judiciary to order, and make Pakistan a modern state, the Army-judiciary-mullah combine in Pakistan decided to teach him a lesson. Mind you at the height of his popularity Bhutto had the gumption to declare to wide acclaim at a massive public meeting in Lahore “Haan main sharab peeta hoon, kisi ka khoon to nahin peeta hoon.”
His Punjab chief minister Ghulam Mustafa Khar had dragged out mullahs by their beards from the famous Mughal masjid in Lahore and beat them in public for their audacity to pronounce Bhutto a Kafir. But when Bhutto superceded six general to make the apparently pliant and submissive Ziaul Haq the army chief, whom Bhutto disdainfully considered supine, the entire Army establishment decided not to forgive him for this sacrilege and tell Bhutto who was the real boss. So a blasphemous Bhutto was sentenced to death on the most specious plea. The allegation against Bhutto by Ahmad Raza Kasuri, still alive, contained in the FIR registered after Bhutto deposition was that at Bhutto’s orders the secret service of Pakistan called the CIA shot at him while he was driving, carrying his father sitting next to the driver’s seat. The bullet missed him. Instead it hit his father who died. The most basic student of law knows that since the ostensible target of the attack was the complainant who survived without the least injury, Section 302 of the PPC identical to IPC cannot apply and therefore no law could prescribe a death sentence for the accidental unintended death of Ahmad Raza Kasuri’s father.
But then Bhutto was so popular that alive, even interned within the Kot Lakhpat jail, he was a threat to Zia. So he had to be removed from the political scenario of Pakistan.
Main Nawaz Sharif faces an identical situation. He was created by the conservative Army-Mullah-judicairy clique of Pakistan and the benevolence and generosity of Zia and the Pakistan Army extended to his entire family. Thus father Sharif within no time became from a moderate businessman to a multi-millionaire steel mill owner and the family continued rising in wealth and prosperity along with political power.
In 1990 when the Pakistan army and mullahs wanted to get rid of Benazir the then Pakistan President Ghulam Ishaq Khan dismissed Benazir’s duly elected PPP government on corruption charges and then ordered fresh elections where the Army-mullah coalition not just backed Nawaz Sharif led Muslim League, but pumped huge money into his campaign and even rigged the elections to ensure his victory.
But Ishaq Khan another proxy of the same conservative establishment and a relic of Zia era had tasted blood. So in 1993 he decided to dismiss Sharif again on corruption charges. But this time since the Army-mullah combine was divided in its loyalty the Supreme Court too was indulgent to Nawaz and eventually the Army intervened asking both to quit bringing back Benazir for a second term, much to the chagrin of the Pak establishment.
Again Benazir was dismissed by President Faroooq Leghari this time and Mian sahib put back into the seat of power. Mian saheb’s politics encouraged or rather patronized the private Wahabi armies like Sipahe Sahaba and Lashkare Jhangvi let loose on Pakistan’s Hindu, Christian, Shia and Ahmediya minorities. He toed the Army line targeting India as an enemy.
But by 1999 Mian sahib started having second thoughts on relations with India and invited the then Indian Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee to Lahore, receiving him and the Indian delegation with a warm welcome. The move may have been welcomed all over the world. But certainly did not go well with the Army-mullah coalition and within no time the Army led by the then Army chief General Parvez Musharraf launched the surreptitious Kargil aggression embarrassing Mian sahib and making his position untenable. Musharraf deposed Nawaz soon after but the mullahs and their patron Saudi Arabia had not lost all hope in Mian sahib, an old and tested friend and so Musharraf was forced to allow Nawaz Sharif exile in Saudi Arabia where he remained till 2007.
But if the USA succeeded in persuading Musharraf to allow Benazir to return to Pakistan and contest the elections proposed to be held in 2008, the patriarchal, Wahabi Islamist Saudi Arabia couldn’t stomach Benazir once more and forced Musharraf to take back Mian sahib too to politically challenge Benazir. So far so good. But then Pakistan’s politicians do not believe in forget and forgive thesis and once back in the saddle in June 2013 he contemplated trying out Musharraf for treason against the 1973 Constitution of Pakistan. Simultaneously he refused to send in his troops to Saudi Arabia to fight its battles against the Yemenis. With the PPP being largely leaderless and rudderless he also decided to cultivate the Hindu minority, participating in their Diwali and Holi festivities as also breaking ice with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi. All this put together caused tremendous suspicion and resentment against Mian sahib whom once the Army-mullah combine and its hand maiden judiciary adored. So their proxy that Imran Khan was let loose and finally the Supreme Court deposed him.
In Pakistan therefore you cannot dream of ruling if you show any indulgence towards the Hindu minorities or “Hindu India.” Pakistan was created on Hindu enmity and the Army has perpetuated its iron rule on Hindu India enmity. The day they let their guards down on this front the raison d’ etre for Pakistan ceases and could lead to the state falling apart. At least that the conservative establishment of Pakistan fears and this is yet again evident in incarceration of Mian Nawaz Sharif. This notwithstanding the fact that there is a groundswell of support within Pakistan for amicable peaceful coexistence with India and a warm feeling for we Indians.