Confusion all around
Will the real PML(N) please stand up? This is getting rather troublesome. Is it the League of post-exile Nawaz Sharif, who seems to have been tutored in the structure and dynamics of constitutional, Westminster-style democracies? Or is it the League of the Nawaz Sharif who submits a petition on the basis of a non-paper written by a dubious US national, all in the ruse of protecting the national army?
Is it the League of Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif, whose visits to the lair in Rawalpindi get tongues wagging? Or is it the League of Sialkot MNA Khwaja Asif, who applauds the prime minister’s decision not to apologise to the military over the latter’s statement to a Chinese daily about the army chief and his spymaster?
Such confusion is but natural. The League never could place itself and these are the growing pains of a party in adolescence. The country’s anti-establishment niche has, traditionally, been the domain of the centre-left parties like the PPP, ANP and the smattering of Baloch nationalists. The creation of an anti-establishment party on the other side of the divide would have been a cause to celebrate were it not for the League’s equivocality on the issue.
One would have thought the party would have had a greater axe to grind here. Their prime minister was booted out of office, all but gagged and bound. And, as opposed to the earlier martial laws where there had been tumult, bloodshed or the prospect of bloodshed, there was nothing of the sort here, no fig leaf of an excuse for the military to step in.
As noted lawyer Asma Jehangir, after resigning as counsel for former ambassador Hussain Haqqani said, this is a petition that is going to come back and bite those who filed it. These are words to the wise. A shortsighted approach to the role of the military in civilian matters is going to be to no one’s benefit. It would do well for the parties currently groomed by the powers that be to realise that even they would have outlived their utility the moment they acquire grassroots support.