Monday, August 19, 2013
Nawaz Sharif’s Maiden Address
By Saeed Qureshi
Nawaz Sharif’s first address to the people of Pakistan after his assuming office was earnest and thoughtful. He was somber and spoke with a profound aura of sincerity and a great deal of solemnity. I can feel that Pakistan has finally landed into the stewardship of a leader who is committed to salvage Pakistan from a deep morass and lift it high to the level of a modern state.
In his nearly an hour long speech the prime minister catalogued all those issues that were in his plate and were passed on to him from what he called a misrule of the past 14 years. He spelled out the strategies of his government to resolve and tackle those ticklish lingering problems. He dilated at length upon acute electricity mayhem and its disastrous impact upon the country’s economy and the people’s lives.
He painted a bleak picture of how ruthlessly the nation building departments and assets were drained and mismanaged that now these have become a liability on the national exchequer to the tune of hundreds of billions of dollars.
I can draw a comparison between the Nawaz Sharif of yesteryears and the one that has come before us after the 2013 elections. There is a sea change in the mannerism, outlook, attitude and overall personality of Mian Nawaz Sharif. Erstwhile, he used to be volatile, reactive, vengeful, aggressive, ambitious and irritable.
Now he is kind, compassionate tolerant, understanding, composed and mature. The long tenure in exile and removal from power has brought about a kind of metamorphosis of maturity in him. He doesn't seem to be power hungry or with a mind frame of sticking to it by hook and by crook and through devious machinations.
During the past five years, he displayed a marvelous show of great statesmanship when he spurned all temptations and calls for removal of PPP government through non democratic maneuvers. His party opted out of the coalition at the center yet remained simultaneously its silent supporter and critic as what was cynically codenamed as “friendly opposition”. That paid dividends to him in the form of retaking power.
He is quite conscious that the gigantic goals and formidable challenges that his government is faced with are to be addressed in a limited framework of five years. His mandate and charter of giving a new promising destiny to Pakistan is comprehensive, ambitious and far reaching that may not be accomplished in that period but hopefully a clear direction and road map would be mounted that can serve as pioneering guide for the future rulers.
Nawaz Sharif’s call to build consensus among the political parties for rebuilding Pakistan as a modern state should be welcomed and appreciated by opposition parties and all sections of the society. But it appears that the PPP, PTI and ANP would not extend a helping hand to prime minister Nawaz Sharif is his agenda for re-calibrating Pakistan towards prosperity, self reliance and dignity.
I gathered this impression after listening to a follow-up debate on Dunya television channel. The participants from PTI and ANP manifested their moral dishonesty by bitterly censuring the prime minister for a disappointing speech. One could have given them some saving grace, had they been objective in also appreciating his objectives and plans that he exuded for a glorious future of Pakistan. But to object that why he catalogued and mentioned the blunders and the bad policies of the previous regimes was an outright show of a hypocritical and malicious mentality.
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has to clean the “Augean Stables” of the gross distortions and criminal disservice of the previous ruling cabals lately that of PPP. It is apparent to the people of Pakistan that during the past decade the national institutions were deliberately and shamelessly debilitated and destroyed. The odious culture of corruption and bad governance was given full play to make money and fill the coffers of the people in power.
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif presented a resume of the wounds inflicted on body politic of Pakistan and the way the elitists classes and politicians tried in every possible manner to render Pakistan a failed and bankrupt nation. For the past several years there has been a complete breakdown of the law and order and the governance seemed to be in tatters.
On the contrary the vast population was subjected to grinding poverty, degradation of life, lawlessness and so on. A nation turned mercenary and pawn in a war that has wreaked it economically and socially, besides denting the national unity and dignified survival as a free nation.
One of the pernicious offshoots was the terrorism that is still rampaging Pakistan. The drone attacks started during Musharraf era and continued during the PPP rule have made a mockery of the sovereignty of Pakistan. There is a rampant loot and plunder prevalent from top to bottom.
The persistent acute electric power shortage was cashed by the big wigs of the previous government for making personal fortunes. The national enterprises like Steel Mills, PIA, railways were subjected to economic ruination.
Referring to terrorism‚ the prime minister said the government was determined to tackle this horrendous problem either through dialogue or with full might of the state. He said that on this issue all the state institutions were in agreement.
The grave lawlessness and demons of corruption that the Pakistani nation has been witnessing for over decade robbed people of peace of mind and even barest means for two square meals. As a result Pakistan can be equaled with some of the unstable African countries now passing through the civil war.
One by one he mentioned the breakdown of law and order, the unremitting terrorism, the Balochistan imbroglio, the Kashmir stalemate, the thorny relations with India, rehabilitation of the doomed enterprises, chronic corruption, the drone attacks, the creation of jobs, the provision of houses to the homeless, the completion of the stalled power projects.
Offering an olive branch to India he remarked that both India and Pakistan should grasp this reality that they should stop wasting their energies and resources on wars‚ and instead divert these to eliminate poverty‚ ignorance and disease.
Bu the most outstanding feature of his speech was to build with China’s help a 2000 miles long highway and railway track between the Kashgar city of China and Karachi. He empathized that this mile-stone project would open a glorious gateway and gigantic spectrum of economic boom for both the countries.
On both sides of this historic miracle, the industrial and economic zones would be established that in return would create countless jobs and lead Pakistan into the fold of prosperous nations. The Prime Minister said that his vision was to extend motorways and communication links not only to Kabul but also to Central Asia and South Asian region.