Experts think that the PML-N-led government would most likely be facing tough challenges during the year 2014 and if not handled properly, these challenges may turn into threats for Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and his colleagues and coalition partners.
Judiciary – Justice (retd) Tariq Mahmood
Lawyers’ Movement leader and activist Justice (retd) Tariq Mahmood says that missing persons case and the trial of former president and dictator General (retd) Pervez Musharraf under treason charges would be the major challenges for Nawaz Sharif & Company.
Legally and constitutionally, the trial of General Musharraf is a simple matter. It’s not a threat if we don’t face pressures from local and international establishment. But the matter could turn complex if foreign powers, especially the ones who played as guarantors and facilitators in deals between General Musharraf and Benazir Bhutto and the exile for Nawaz Sharif and his family in the past, decide to act up.
“In legal terms, it is a simple case. But things may turn ugly if not handled properly. The PML-N government is already facing serious challenges in terms of bleeding economy, poor law and order situation and terrorism. Moreover, sectarian strife has hit the country badly. These indicators reflect that the trial of Pervez Musharraf may get complicated anytime,” he said.
Tariq Mahmood added that the incompetence of Nawaz Sharif and his friends may add further to the turmoil the country was already facing.
“I can see that some media houses may soon jump in to launch a campaign to save General Musharraf. People like Mubashar Lucman and Rana Mubashar have already jumped in. Politicians like Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain have also joined the party. I have indications and reports that MQM will also soon join in the chorus. The PPP has already demanded that the trail should be started from 1999 coup.”
He said that Musharraf’s legal team was also being strengthened and one of Pirzadas, Sharifuddin Pirzada, had been appointed lead consul to save Musharraf. “Khalid Ranjha and Anwer Mansoor have also chipped in while more legal brains would also jump in soon,” he added.
He said that technically, this was a simple case but there were vibes that the defence team for Musharraf wanted to include “abettors and facilitators” in the case. However, he added, it will not change the scenario as Musharraf was the principal accused in imposition of emergency.
“If General Musharraf accepts that he had imposed emergency and had abrogated the constitution, his insistence that there were some abettors and facilitators would not help shift his responsibility,” he asserted.
However, he insisted that the PML-N government looks weak and fragile to go ahead with the trail. “Delaying tactics may help the defence as petitions after petitions may be filed to get the proceedings of the court delayed. A weak government, already facing challenges on its borders, economic and other fronts, may not be able to take this case to its logical conclusion,” he opined.
Defence, civil-military relations – Hasan Askari Rizvi
Noted defence analyst Dr Hasan Asklari Rizvi said that Musharraf’s trial, regional scenario after US/Nato forces’ withdrawal from Afghanistan, terrorism, internal security and external security threats were major challenges for the PML-N government in the next year.
Rizvi said that he sees an uncertain future for the PML-N government during the next year due to regional and security threats faced by the country.
About Musharraf’s trial, Hasan Askari Rizvi said that there were apparently remote chances of the case against Musharraf as there were no precedents across the globe for trying military dictators for military takeovers.
“It would thus be a rare example if a military ruler is charged and executed for takeover. Moreover, democracy can’t be strengthened by holding General Musharraf responsible for the military coup. It is very difficult to take this trial to its logical conclusion.”
On external security front, Rizvi said that handling situation in Afghanistan would be a major challenge when the NATO/US troops withdraw in the next year. “Though there is an argument being built that the security situation would be improved after the US troops’ withdrawal but I think that the situation and turmoil may further grow. The myth of attaining peace after US withdrawal will be exploded as the security situation may further aggravate,” he asserted.
He said that though some religious outfits and Imran Khan were building their arguments on this myth but either both were befooling the people of Pakistan or they were fooling themselves. He added that the PML-N government and even military were confused on handling the TTP phenomenon and both lacked will to deal with the issue properly.
“The military is looking towards the political leadership for any action against militants. They will never act before any go ahead from the government. I think media misreported about North Waziristan Agency operation. There is no operation and rather the military had retaliated the militants attack. Such retaliation had also been made in the past,” he added.
He said that whenever the militants attacked, the PML-N government got confused and assessments were made whether the attack was launched by their “friends” or by some other militants. “Such a confused leadership can’t take decision to deal with the militancy accordingly and to restore the writ of the state,” he asserted.
He said that the economic meltdown was also a result of the deteriorating law and order situation in the country and no foreign investment or development could be made until and unless the government deals with the militants.
Economy – Asad Umar
Eminent economist Asad Umar says that the PML-N government would be faced with very grave economic collapse – thanks to the economic policies adopted by Finance Minister Ishaq dar and his teammates.
“We think that Ishaq Dar is actually adding to the economic woes of the PML-N government. I seriously doubt his commitment and loyalty towards the PML-N,” he said.
Umar added that no change was visible in the economic condition of the country in the next year and the bleeding economy would further deteriorate in year 2014.
“According to official figures, inflation is crossing 10.9 while it would further increase as the government has received proposals to raise power, gas, diesel and petrol prices from January. This increase would have direct effect on inflation and price hike would shoot up significantly,” he added.
Umar said that despite an injection to the economy after receipt of IMF loan tranche, no remedy would be made as there would be no major fluctuation in terms of economic indicators.
“The only good news we can hear during the next year would be the increase of textile imports. It would help boost foreign exchange reserves. Foreign remittances however would not change,” he added. He said that there would be no improvement in energy situation and load shedding may further increase in the next year.
He said that since no tax reforms had been introduced, no improvement in tax returns was possible and the revenue collection would remain a major problem. He said that without the fiscal reforms, no government could increase its revenue and hence the PML-N government would have to face economic disaster in the upcoming year.
The writer is an Islamabad based journalist. He can be reached at [email protected]