It seems that the Sharif brothers and the Pakistan Muslim League have not been able to learn anything from their past encounters with the Army. A bit of history before we get into the meat of this.. Nawaz Sharif was not a politician, nor did he come from a political family. He was born into politics mistakenly by one of the most ruthless military dictators in Pakistan’s history, General Zia ul Haq. I say mistakenly because the General actually wanted his brother Shahbaz, who was thought to be smarter and more responsible, to enter politics, but Muhammad Sharif (father) would not spare him from his duties in the family business. Thus, the hapless Public Relations Officer Nawaz Sharif was elevated to Finance Minister in the Punjab and then to its Chief Minister by a dictator.
But the Sharifs association with the Army didn’t end with Zia’s death. They are also named in the massive corruption in the Asghar Khan case, where politician’s campaigns were bankrolled in the 90s to assure they would win seats. You would think that would be the end, but no.
In their last government (1998), they forced General Jehangir Karamat out of the Chief of Army Staff chair over a disagreement on foreign policy, skipped the next senior General (Ali Kuli Khan) and selected Musharraf as the new Chief of Army Staff. The rest as they say is history…
This weekend, the Sharif government again decided that it was time to take on the Army, opening two Pandora’s Boxes simultaneously. The first is the treason case against Musharraf over the emergency declared in Pakistan in November 2007. The second is a probe into the Asghar Khan case, ordered by the Supreme Court, in which the Sharif brothers and many of their party members took huge payouts from the Army and ISI. I should clarify that at this point in history, the ISI maintained a political intelligence cell created by PPP founder Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, for this specific purpose.
This is a catastrophic mistake by the sitting government on so many levels.
- It is a return to the vendetta politics that the PML-N and PPP made famous during the 90s, taking turns to dismiss each other’s governments through hook or crook.
- You can’t charge just Musharraf for treason in the November 2007 case. There were hundreds of other people involved from politicians to police to judges and military. The Pandora’s Box on this is huge.
- Proving that Musharraf did not do this for the sake of the country will be difficult. The judiciary in Pakistan is hapless and unable to deliver guilty verdicts against terrorists or politicians, as we have seen in recent years with many being freed by the courts even though there is ample proof to convict.
- The Sharifs have always made a point of taking on the Army in their governments. It has always been their downfall, but they never seem to learn from it.
This Pandora’s box is just a sidestep to take people’s attention away from their failed economic and national security policies. Pakistan is in trouble and the PM is unable to develop a plan to save it.