Saturday, 30 April 2016

Where are we heading? By Mumtaz A. Piracha


These days, the only crucial issue in Pakistan appears to be the Panama Papers and their impact on politics in Pakistan with special reference to civil-military relations and the future of Mian Nawaz Sharif.

We, at Good Governance Forum, do not have a crystal-ball to make predictions. We look at the events with their relevance to the past happenings and try to understand what we read and hear on different platforms. Our analysis and assessment are based on the situation at any given time. When the power players change their stance for any reason, the results are bound to change. So, there is nothing firm and final for all times to come.

As the system prevails in Pakistan, the politicians, the military and the US have a key role in the political happenings of Pakistan. They form the 'power nucleus.' Behind them are the UK, KSA and UAE. And still behind them are others like Iran, Russia, China, India, Afghanistan. In all, there are 11 major and minor players in the team. It is probably for the first time in our history that we have so many power players/influencers/opinion-makers because of the peculiar national, regional and international compulsions. The individual strength and say of the power players depend on the circumstances of any given situation. There are ups and downs in their own individual strengths.

Historically, the Sharifs carried and fostered the 'perception' of being the clean politicians. The Panama Papers have exploded and shattered the 'perception.' And the Sharifs have no clue as to how to defend themselves. Nor do their party stalwarts and the spokesmen. The more they try to defend, the more evidence surface of their doings. 

There is no doubt that the people, by and large, are really up their neck with corruption and its repercussions on their lives. The rank and file of the military sides with the people. So, there is obvious pressure within the military to act and get rid of the corruption and the corrupt politicians and the corrupt bureaucracy who is hand in hand with the politicians. 

The Panama Papers are not going to die out any sooner. The ultimate choice for Mian Nawaz Sharif is more than obvious and written on the wall. He will have to find a way to extricate himself from his children's doings, though it is hardly improbable that he will be able to do so. So, the next best choice will be to quit and let somebody else from within his party to replace him for the remaining period of the tenure. That again is highly improbable for that 'someone' may ultimately replace Mian Nawaz Sharif in the party or country's politics. 

The last and only choice for him will be to opt for midterm polls. What scares him and others in the PMLN is also more than obvious. The 'caretakers'  are not likely to just hold the midterm polls and go home; they are most likely to do an operation clean-up before the polls are held. In the process, Mian Nawaz Sharif and many of his party stalwarts are most likely to be declared ineligible to contest the elections.

What next then? The military will have to step in..... in one way or the other. There is no other choice, for the time being. And the 'power nucleus' knows it fairly well. I, for one, has no doubt about the inevitable to happen and happen in next few months and certainly before Nov 2016.

29 April 2016

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