From PM Nawaz Sharif to DM Nawaz Sharif

Every Ending is a New Beginning

By Humayun Gauhar

Chronicle of a Political Suicide Foretold: Ask the army chief to act as mediator between government, Imran Khan and Tahir ul Qadri and stand guarantor to any agreement.

Chief agrees and separately meets both leaders who insist they will not back down from their demand for Nawaz’s resignation.

Nawaz discovers it hasn’t worked and tries to throw the Chief under the bus by denying that he asked the Chief to mediate.

The army spokesman confirms that the government asked the Chief to do so.

Now wait for the army to throw Nawaz under the bus.

It is the best of times for the few beneficiaries of our anti-democratic system and the worst of times for its many victims who are hoping that it will give way to genuine democracy, participatory, representative, inclusive and pluralistic with empowerment of the people that unleashes improvement in the human condition. I wouldn’t be anywhere else but Islamabad. A city that was pejoratively called “smaller than Arlington but twice as dead” has suddenly become a most happening place. I wouldn’t be anywhere else for all the world. No longer is it five miles away from Pakistan but its heartbeat: throbbing, pulsating, rushing blood into the anemic veins of the wretched of the earth.

I write this on Friday the 29th of August – my 39th wedding anniversary by the way – so I don’t know what would have happened by the time you read this on Sunday. Whatever, PM Nawaz Sharif has successfully turned himself into DM Nawaz Sharif by his own hand – ‘DM’ as in Deputy Commissioner. His best bet is to douse the fire while he can.

As I write this I hear unbelievable bombast, bluster and falsehoods from Nawaz Sharif, the interior minister, the opposition leader and the head of a small Baloch-Pukhtoon Party. How alienated from reality can they get? Such improbable harangues lead to tears. They should be seeking political solutions, not challenging the mob to storm the Bastille, telling it that you can destroy everything but the Constitution, as if it were divine.

Nawaz Sharif’s U-turn makes one wonder: is this part of a plan to make the army look rogue after its image had improved with the anti-terrorist operation in North Waziristan? Could well be because the Nawaz Gang is too clever by half. They know not that they are doing. Or are they trying to force a classic coup so that they can go down as ‘martyrs of democracy’? They should learn to make their tongues follow their challenged brains instead of the other way round for this time a coup may not be gentlemanly. In truth, these politicians are the real assassins of democracy. It’s a false democracy anyway that creates such assassins. Unwittingly, they are doing the right thing. The system is dead and these assassin politicians are trying to bring it back to life to save the scaffold on which they thrive. Do they think they are Jesus Christ? Lies and deception weaves a web that traps you. They should understand that the previously somnambulant people have awoken and found courage and voice. These political assassins should fear the Rod of God, ask for forgiveness, break from the past and enter into a contract with the future never to do such things again – Taubah.

In asking the army chief to pull his chestnuts out of the fire, Nawaz sucked him into politics and may have violated the Constitution because this is not the army chief’s job. The General told him that the Army doesn’t shoot its people, only the enemy. (Does the Army, perchance, perceive Nawaz Sharif as the enemy? Was that the hidden message?). General Raheel agreed, provided that Nawaz first registers a First Information Report (FIR) pertaining to the Model Town massacre of 14 of Qadri’s followers on June 17 and injuring some 85. Nawaz agreed, repaired to Lahore, and then sent his conditions for a deal via the Interior Minister to the General who called Imran and Qadri to meet him Thursday night. Unable to help himself, Nawaz fooled the Army Chief by getting a defective and deficient FIR filed that Qadri rejected immediately. When news reached Nawaz from the Army Chief that neither Imran nor Qadri were prepared to back down from their demand for his resignation, he became a Butt. He went to the National Assembly and dissembled, saying that it was Imran and Qadri that who asked General Raheel to act as mediator-guarantor and embarrassed the General roundly. It is such things that invite disaster. But the Army must also realize that it has contributed to the mess we are in today. It must change its SOPs.

But can you believe it, a Prime Minister who parades himself as ‘democratically elected’ breaking the Constitution and himself sucking the Army into politics? And then they bleat about Army interference and intervention. I feel vindicated because I have been saying for years that it is the politicians who always pave the way for army interventions with their lies, chicanery, deception and woefully atrocious governance. If you still don’t understand this you have to have a firmly closed mind.

When you suffer from the malaise of seeing enemies where there are none, turning imaginary problems into real and then finding artless solutions to them in desperation, you bite the dust. This malaise was chronic in Mr. Bhutto. In Nawaz Sharif it is hyper-chronic.

Had Nawaz listened to reason, this crisis was eminently avoidable. He should have agreed to Imran Khan’s original demand to audit votes in only four constituencies. The Model Town massacre is inexplicable and could only have been thought up by demented minds. But once the bloody deed was done, Nawaz Sharif’s brother Shahbaz should have immediately resigned as Chief Minister Punjab and all those involved been thrown under the bus and an FIR registered at once. They didn’t. Instead, when Qadri returned to Islamabad they prevented his Emirates flight from landing and hijacked it to Lahore, giving him untold free publicity. What idiots. More idiotic, Nawaz chose to rile the Army by instituting a false treason case against General Musharraf, letting loose his dogs of deception on it and refused to let it launch an operation against the Taliban and other terrorists in North Waziristan. Instead, he called the Taliban ‘stakeholders’ and formed a mediocre committee of Taliban sympathizers to negotiate peace with them, giving many of them time to escape to Afghanistan and regroup and losing the surprise element. When an anti-army TV channel GEO started raining venom on the ISI and its chief accusing him without proof of planning the murder of its anchor who had stopped a bullet in Karachi, Nawaz went posthaste to the hospital to sympathize with him and show which side he was on. Then his mealy-mouthed Information Minister followed suit and said that the government was on the side of evidence, not the catapult, meaning against the army. Such idiocy is the stuff of the Mad Hatter in Wonderful.

Be that as it may, Nawaz Sharif could have solved the crisis of the sit-ins immediately. The solution was within the Constitution and obvious. Nawaz Sharif should have told the National Assembly that because the last elections had become so controversial and put the country into gridlock, for the sake of Pakistan, its Constitution, democracy and the system, he would ask the President to dissolve the assemblies, form caretaker governments and hold elections again to get rid of all doubts. “Let us go back to the highest court on Earth, the court of the people and tell them to decide,” he should have said. In so doing he would have regained his lost respect and could even have put up a good showing in the next elections, if not won.

  Afghanistan: BBC's Impartiality Questioned

To do this you need an artful statesman, not a bunch of Artful Dodgers. Nawaz Sharif and his gang are entirely artless. They are bumbling yokels, badly educated, intellectually challenged, prejudiced and with a criminal bent of mind that only mouths democracy without understanding it. What they understand is monarchy and that is how they operate. Worse, they are corrupt to the core.

But Nawaz Sharif didn’t opt for the simple solution. Why? For Gang Sharif the simple solution is not so simple because they are haunted by the growing evidence against election fraud and the many cases of malfeasance, from bank default, money laundering to which their finance minister has confessed, possible murder and high treason. Rigging elections is subverting the will of the people, which is tantamount to subverting the Constitution. Article 6 beckons for the subverting riggers and their “aiders and abettors”. If Bhutto could be wrongly hanged and murdered, what price the Sharifs? Having charged General Pervez Musharraf under Article 6 and that too selectively for imposing a brief emergency in 2007, Nawaz Sharif is fearful of imposing emergency to deal with the situation, though that is the obvious and constitutional thing to do. Ironic, isn’t it? What goes round comes round. Clinging to office will give him protection – or so he thinks.

Out of office Nawaz loses protection. But if he leaves office within the Constitution or takes the Islamic route and pays blood money to the heirs of the Model Town victims, he may have some protection.

Unexpectedly Friday evening the government’s team and Imran and Qadri’s teams went into negotiations again. Nothing came of it, of course. Possibly a miffed General Raheel informed Nawaz Sharif that he was opting out as mediator-guarantor and he should his solve his political problems himself. What he possibly left unsaid it, “OR ELSE”.

  Damascus Street Notes

“O what a tangled web we weave when first we practice to deceive.”