Pakistan’s new father and son political setup
The ouster of PM Imran Khan through a no-confidence motion tabled by his powerful rivals, followed by the election of PML-N’s Shehbaz Sharif as the PM of Pakistan and his son, Hamza, as chief minister of the country’s most populous province after a violence-marred session of the provincial legislature, is indicative of a turbulent political future.
The working of the system may face some problems as the former ruling party has already started protests in various parts of the country despite the baking heat outside and the holy month of Ramadan. Since the governments of KP and Balochistan have the backing of the furious PTI, they will leave no stone unturned to stoke tensions and create difficulties for the new rulers in Islamabad.
It will not be wrong to say that at present the PTI stands politically isolated as all other parties, major or smaller, have joined against it. The sudden unity of so many parties of divergent views and manifestos is seemingly not possible without some invisible hands gluing them all together. After all, some miracle has happened in the Islamic republic as a result of which Mr Shehbaz Sharif was ‘enthroned’ on the very day he was supposed to have been indicted in a corruption case of billions of rupees.
The formation of the PML-N government in Pakistan in the prevailing situation is an unbelievable development partly because of the animosity between the army chief and the London-based former prime minister Nawaz Sharif, the real decision-maker of the party.
Just to refresh readers’ memories, a couple of years ago, the Pakistan Democratic Movement, an alliance of some nine parties, was carrying out its protest campaign against the PTI government when Mian Nawaz Sharif, through his video-link address from the British capital, strongly criticized both the army chief and then ISI chief for their support for the PTI government. He had warned that his party would take them to task after returning to power. Feeling that the speech had damaged the opposition parties’ cause and future prospects, the PPP and ANP had parted ways with the PDM to convey an impression that they didn’t support the PML-N leadership on the issue.
Everybody believed back then, that the PML-N supremo had sealed the fate of his party with the outspoken move. But today the PML-N president has taken over as the new prime minister and his son as chief minister of Punjab.
This means that the PML-N has, somehow, mended fences with Pakistan’s powerful military. How the change of heart took place will take some time to become public.
Propriety demanded that Shehbaz get himself acquitted before taking over as chief executive of the Islamic republic. Now there is no hope at all that the decision could go against him.
It’s quite meaningful that Khan is out of power and his party is isolated. And these were the two major components of the alleged ‘threat letter’ the PTI chairman was talking about.
Shehbaz Sharif’s success in getting the mantle of prime minister despite the sitting army chief’s reservations is reflective of the party’s connections and flexibility/ adaptability.
Compared to him, Imran Khan’s inexperience and inflexibility are among the main factors that drove him out of power. His inexperienced and sycophant aides failed to provide him the right kind of advice to deal with situations.
Pakistan’s history shows that no party has won a second consecutive term in elections, no matter what its popularity or performance claims. If this is anything to go by, the PTI stands no immediate chance of returning to power whenever the next elections are held. In other words, the party will have to wait for quite some time before getting another opportunity.
As of now, the Sharifs have rewritten history. Twice in the past, Mian Nawaz Sharif and his brother Shehbaz Sharif worked as prime minister and chief minister respectively. However, when Nawaz Sharif became prime minister for the first time, the Punjab chief minister was Ghulam Haider Wyne (now late).
Now, Shehbaz and Hamza, the father and son, are holding the two most important positions in the country, setting a new precedent in the country’s political history.
The new prime minister has already given directions for the issuance of a diplomatic passport to his brother Nawaz Sharif, who is a convict and declared a fugitive by a court. The justification of the directive is being questioned in public circles.
Another matter being debated is the fate of the corruption charges still pending against Pakistan’s new prime minister. Propriety demanded that he get himself acquitted before taking over as chief executive of the Islamic republic. Now there is no hope at all that the decision could go against him.
The exemption granted by a Lahore court to Shehbaz a few days ago from making personal appearances in three corruption cases strengthens the opinion that things have started falling in line for the ruling party.
- The writer is a senior and veteran journalist with a career spanning 40 years with major national and international newspapers.