Pakistan: Kingdom of the Sharifs
Pakistan has begun to look like a kingdom of the Sharifs , where family members are like royalty and are entrusted with the administration of various areas sans qualifications or experience. Living in Saudi Arabia for an extended time has left some imprint of the royals on the Sharif mind and they assume everything they do is right. Promises made at the time of the election campaign are long forgotten and the main concentration is on attaining as many luxuries as possible.
Their election victory is quite controversial to begin with , a parties-demanded Election Commission probe recently found vote fraud favouring Nawaz Sharif , and some politicians demanded that he must resign from his position of prime minister.
An ECP official said a typing mistake had increased the count by 7,000 more votes. Meanwhile, the controversy got worse as it also revealed vote fraud favouring Nawaz Sharif in his winning constituency. If this is what happened in the Prime Minister’s own constituency and he won by rigging , what would have happened in other constituencies.
What has been achieved in these 14 months? The ground realities of the last 14 months are an absolute contrast to the favorable impression given by improvement in the ranking of Pakistan by Moody’s. It is not easy to wait another 4 years for the turnaround of the country under PMLN’s rule. There is hardly any change in the power load shedding situation if you compare the PPP and the PMLN government. The same amount of electricity is being provided but at 100% increased rates. What makes it even worse than the PPP era is that the power is supplied at as low as 170 volts, in PMLN’s time . A lot of unwarranted extravagance has taken place on purchases of latest model BMW’s, costly foreign tours, purchase of expensive dogs, free five-star meals being served to their parliamentarians in the National Assembly cafeteria. There is a total disconnect between the ruling elite and the general public.
The PMLN government has extraordinary sympathy for the TTP , the Tehreek e Taliban Pakistan, that are responsible for the killings of thousands of Pakistanis. There is a huge difference between a political party having a stance and a government having a stance. Once PMLN is in power it should be on the side of the state rather than that of terrorists. Nawaz let the local Taliban TTP have a complete one year respite to reinforce and regroup under the pretext of dialogue. The terrorists made the best of this opportunity and kept on carrying out attacks while repeatedly saying they were ready for dialogue.
The government kept on single mindedly working on the dialogue option without having any strategy at all, meanwhile their mood swings were brought to a pause with retaliatory bombing by Pakistan Air Force on militant hideouts in NorthWaziristan. Eventually the air strikes came to a standstill missing the golden opportunity to get rid of the band of foreign mercenaries effectively, at that point in time the area where they found refuge was snowbound .The army had blocked all escape routes and they could have been effectively smoked out. They were given a one month ceasefire to regroup and restrengthen their fighters , new money was channelled in by their sponsor countries making them an even bigger menace for Pakistan. The PMLN led government also released 19 TTP prisoners as a ‘gesture of goodwill ‘, finally after the attack on Karachi airport , the decision to start the military operation Zarb e Azb was taken.
India is trying to establish its hegemony in the region by controlling water sources and damaging agricultural economies,India has water disputes with Pakistan , Nepal and Bangladesh. Construction of the Bhasha /Daimler dam should have been expedited at the very least but the government is hesitant to take any concrete steps and is putting Pakistan,s water supply under unnecessary threat .
Nawaz Sharif,s government is a security risk for the country leading it to a catastrophic disaster. Billions can be spent on the Sharif,s Metro Bus show project but not on building dams. India’s water storage capacity is 287MAF whereas Pakistan’s stands below 12.6MAF. 10 to 20% of agriculture in India/Pakistan is under threat due to falling groundwater levels. Pakistan is on the brink of water scarcity agriculture provides employment to half of all Pakistanis and accounts for a quarter of the GDP.
If dams are not built now ,Pakistan will lose 30% of its water. It would have been immensely practical to have more dams to store water , in turn this would have helped in hydro-power easing the power crisis and decreasing load-shedding. Bhasha Dam has now been delayed for 17 years,it was scheduled to complete in 2020 and meet Pakistan,s energy needs at more reasonable rates.
Bhasha Dam could have increased Tarbela Dam’s life by 35-40 years. It would have been detrimental for Indian interests as it could give a boost to Pakistan,s economy and manufacturing costs would decrease cosiderably for industries. This edge for Pakistan,s exports would be unacceptable to India. Conserving water is imperative and ignoring this is a threat to Pakistan,s future. Nawaz Sharif totally wasted the opportunity to discuss water-sharing issues with Modi when he visited New Delhi for the latters swearing-in. The Sharifs are not bothered about water shortage due to India having usurped Pakistan,s water supply.
Neither are they raising the Kashmir issue or discussing Siachin on visits to India ,in fact they are refusing to meet Kashmiri leaders. There is need for the Pakistan government to increase its interest in the Kashmir issue and show no leniency.
The PML -N government has surprisingly started downplaying Kashmir in its eagerness to have better relations with India.
Not only that , its newly elected PM of AJK Ch. Majeed visited army headquarters and asked that Pakistan army posts be pulled back for some strange reason. PML -N uses Kashmir as part of its election strategy and it should pursue it with sincerity after coming into power .
The U.S has always influenced Pakistani political dynamics but nowadays it is India that has found the Sharif brothers very compliant , they at various junctures since coming into power in 2013 , have taken a very India -friendly stance. Before the elections Nawaz Sharif had even called for an inquiry against ISI , the country’s premier intelligence agency over the 26/11 Mumbai case to show India what a sincere friend he is to them. All this makes one wonder whether PMLN in power is bound to India in some way, it has an uncanny resemblance to Hasina Wajid,s government in Bangladesh which is an Indian satellite. Recently , a retired RAW operative , R.K Yadav wrote a book “Mission R&AW” in which he has disclosed how RAW paid Hasina Wajid Rs.132 crore to rig Bangladesh elections.
PMLN can be criticised for not making PEMRA an autonomous body ,it doesn’t seem to make any decisions of its own . Nawaz Sharif made sure Geo TV channel,s license was not terminated ,BJP openly conveyed him their concerns and he made sure Geo makes a comeback even though it had content full of treason and blasphemy. Pakistan,s Ministry of Defense had advised the government to shut down Geo TV. The Defense Ministry also asked PEMRA , the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority, to revoke Geo,s license and initiate criminal proceedings against its editors and management as Geo had crossed all limits, adopting a confrontational stance against the army.
The Sharif,s business interests in India have resulted in negative repurcussions that can be bad for Pakistan,s security. Businessmen close to them are also pursuing Indian business without any scruples. Mian Mansha ,s efforts to establish Indian media holdings in Pakistan were assisted by Hasan Nawaz , Nawaz Sharif,s son and they tried their best to let Indians own TV channels here while not a single Pakistani channel is allowed on air in India.
Last month a violent clash took place between the Punjab Police and Pakistan Awami Tehreek activists , resulting in 14 protesters being killed by the police gunfire over the issue of removal of encroachments. It showed the highhandedness of the Punjab government , it is unclear who gave the order to start killing protestors but the entire responsibility of the incident lies with the Chief Minister Shehbaz Sharif. A known activist of the PML-N, Gullu Butt , was captured on media footage smashing cars and chanting slogans , he was also seen leading the law enforcement officers’ charge against the protesters. This incident has spoilt Sharif,s image further and it shows how he runs the country like a dictator.
Recently , the controversial Arsalan Iftikhar, son of ex-CJ Iftikhar Choudhry was provided the chance to lure in foreign and local investors to the huge gold and copper mines in Rekodiq Balochistan. He was hardly an epitome of honesty , nor did he have the credentials to be made Director, Bureau of Investment for Baluchistan , a province rich in mineral resources. He finally resigned due to being exposed on social media for his unsuitability and bad record. It is beyond comprehension why he was Nawaz Sharif,s choice for such an important post.
A civil society organisation , Pattan Development , working on governance monitoring and human rights issues, made public a survey in December ,2013 in which 93 per cent out of those interviewed were disappointed by the PML-N’s way of governance. According to the survey 93 per cent of votes cast for PML-N were in Punjab adding that even workers of the ruling party were worried about the future of the country. According to this survey ,PMLN should improve confidence and trust of the public in the government.
It doesn’t seem to want to be voted into power ever again.