A shrewd maneuver turns into a humiliating surrender | Pakistan Today

A shrewd maneuver turns into a humiliating surrender

Nawaz Sharif’s comedy of errors continues

 

The elephant in the room has been sighted. For years, the military establishment’s indirect involvement in the politics of Pakistan was a notion that was acknowledged by everyone but never condoned. It was a taboo that no representative of an elected government would talk about. It was an elephant in the room. But not anymore.

The political decency, and the constitutional supremacy, which had always barred the army’s political role has now been shattered to pieces, and the honours were done by none other than the democratically elected prime minister himself. Nawaz Sharifcame up with perhaps the strangest solution after leading his government into a severe political crisis that is now looking all the more likely to unseat him. For the first time, an elected prime minister directly asked an army chief to step in to solve a political crisis. Now as the whole nation awaits in uncertainty to see the ultimate outcome of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf and Pakistan Awami Tehreek’s movements, the final call will, in all likelihood, come from the GHQ.

Nawaz Sharif’s unexplainable decision did a lot more than surrender his power to call the shots. It insulted millions of voters who trusted him, and not the army chief, with running the affairs of the state and steering the country out of its crises. It compromised every democratic principle about institutional separation. It overlooked constitutional limitations on the role of the army. It discredited the parliament, whose both houses had unanimously vowed to support him just days ago. It set a dangerous precedent which might come back to haunt the democratic project in future. It delegitimised Nawaz Sharif as a ruler and a political leader. It steered his government into an even deeper deadlock. It did all the harm that it could do.

Nawaz Sharif’s unexplainable decision did a lot more than surrender his power to call the shots. It insulted millions of voters who trusted him, and not the army chief, with running the affairs of the state and steering the country out of its crises.

But, was there possibly a method to the madness? Nawaz’s move, as it seems now, had all the essentials of a wishful plan that backfired. In retrospect, he and his advisors would have hoped for the scheme of things to go differently. What could have discredited his opponents more than a meeting with the army chief at a crucial time? And had Imran Khan or Tahirul Qadri backed out of any of their major demands after meeting with the army chief, it would have only vindicated PML-N’s claim that their strings were pulled by an invisible master. Although many questions could be raised about PTI and PAT, but in their late night speeches, both Khan and Qadri claimed to reinforce their demands in their respective meetings with the army chief and reinstated that their sit-ins would not end until the ends they set out to achieve are achieved.

Hence, pressure on the government built up and its comedy of errors continued the next morning. Addressing the national assembly, Nawaz Sharif said “the government did not request the army chief to intervene at all” and it was rather a wish of the Khan-Qadri duo. Upon this both Khan and Qadri made speeches to refute Nawaz’s statement, calling him a liar. Justa few hours after the confusion had started to escalate, the director general of ISPR tweeted which said that it was actually the government that asked the chief of army staff to play a role in the current crisis.

DG ISPR’s statement directly falsified the prime minister’s address in the national assembly and deprived the government of whatever political mileage it had left.

DG ISPR’s statement directly falsified the prime minister’s address in the national assembly and deprived the government of whatever political mileage it had left.

 

Moeed Pirzada, a renowned journalist who has been closely monitoring the situation, said that Nawaz Sharif “misled the whole country from the floor of the house”. Talking to Pakistan Today, Pirzada said Nawaz “has shot himself in the foot in the strangest way possible” and is not likely to get out of it.

Ayesha Siddiqa, a prominent author and analyst, was also skeptical of Nawaz Sharif’s move. Talking to Pakistan Today, Siddiqa said “although the government is dealing with power-hungry opponents in an overall bad episode” but to involve the army was “an unwise decision”.

The Sharif government is in immense trouble that has ironically been abetted by its own mistakes once again. While the wait and see policy was actually steadily defusing the pressure, the latest tale of events has reinvigorated the supporters of PAT and PTI. PTI has now announced protests in four major cities, which are likely to impound pressure on the government in the coming days.

Moeed Pirzada added that “Nawaz Sharif is hanging by a rope that is on fire”. If Nawaz Sharif’s resignation materialises, it will yet again be an inglorious departure of his government and like the previous two times, he will again have himself to blame far more than anyone else.



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