Sunday, October 23, 2011

Nawaz Sharif stands a better Chance to Win

October 18, 2011

By Saeed Qureshi

Nawaz Sharif’s party PML (N) has a brighter chance to capture majority of votes in the next general elections in Pakistan. There are a host of factors that prompt me to resort to this guess. First of all the fervent and passionate ovation that he has received during his whirlwind tour of interior Sindh augurs optimism for his growing popularity in that province that, since the beginning, has been the exclusive preserve of the Pakistan People’s Party.

It is certainly a mystifying development to watch Nawaz Sharif roaring in the lion’s den and challenging the traditional political adversaries in their backyard. That also lays bare the inescapable fact that the trends of politics are changing. The people now are more mindful of their rights and instead of blindly following the traditional loyalties in matter of voting or politics, are focused on who serves them the best.

Asif Zardari has never been willingly accepted the true and rightful supreme boss of the PPP. His sudden rise in the party after her spouses’ assassination has been taken by the people of Pakistan including a large section of Sindhis with a pinch of salt.
Mr. Zardari’s stature as a political chief of the PPP (renamed as PPPP) has been under the burden of myriad allegations of malfeasance, corruption and mismanagement.

His accidental advent and positioning in the PPP also catapults a big question mark with suspicions from various quarters that he might be an accomplice in that incident. The snail-paced and rather negligible progress and utter lack of any passion in the investigation of that high profile murder, all the more of the party chairperson and daughter of the founder of the party, has been like an albatross around the neck of Mr. Zardari.

Mr. Zardari as the PPP’s chairman with Sindh as party’s stronghold has been more like a divisive catalyst than keeping its cadres together and well knit. The party’s internal fissures and fractures bubbled up with the irreconcilable hostility between Rahman Malik and Zulfiqar Ali Mirza. Other PPP stalwarts, latest being Zafar Ali Shah, have been distancing themselves and issuing hostile comments on the ineptitude of the party leadership.

In both the rural and urban Sindh, the PPP in order to stay in the power saddle has been relying mostly on its alliance with MQM whose sphere of influence is confined to Karachi and partly to Hyderabad. This make and break and hate and love relationship with MQM has disheartened and dejected many PPP local leaders who are restive and oppose this penchant of Mr. Zardari to foil principles for the sake of saving their government.

The penchant for expediency and attainment of short term gains via alliances is also manifest in keeping the ANP in good humor to the extent that a visibly long standing, untenable demand of changing the title of the NWFP was accepted overnight. The PPP has therefore, considerably corroded its image of a party of ideals, principles, custodian of masses and being anti-establishment.

In the wake of the last and this year’s floods, that brought an all encompassing and unspeakable devastation and sufferings to the people of Sindh, the PPP government’s response has been inadequate or half hearted. The PPP government’s ministers and leaders have been missing or sparsely seen in the affected areas.

On the contrary, the other parties including the PTI and MQM have enormously contributed to the relief and rehabilitation efforts that are still going on. In the backdrop of these developments and PPP”s marked apathy and lack of concern for a huge devastated population of Sindh, its graph of popularity has lowered to a considerable level.
For PMLN, there is no other formidable contender except the PPP whose lofty standing is now waning unless the party rebounds with a revolutionary agenda to win back the support and loyalties of the Sindhis particularly and those of the people of Pakistan generally.

Perhaps this trend of depleting support for the PPP is unstoppable as the people, thanks to the ubiquitous media and pervasive information channels are politically more aware and possess enough pragmatism and discretion to judge and use their rights to vote for a party or leader of their choice.

After having been exposed to the rigors, following his ouster from the power, the PMLN chief Nawaz Sharif appears to be a much reformed and chastised person. Ten long years in exile have equipped him with enough sobriety and prudence to tone down his disposition of stubbornness, revenge and punitively hitting back his opponents.

Unlike his past volatile demeanor as an aggressive and capricious leader, who would not tolerate any opposition from the media or the judiciary; he seems now to be much mellowed, wiser and thoughtful person.

The Pakistani media was extremely hard pressed during his tenure as a prime minister and so was the judiciary. The Supreme Court building was brazenly ransacked while the then chief justice Sajjad Ali Shah was sitting inside.

His aversion for the military rule in Pakistan has been an enormously positive outlook that he has been constantly maintaining despite the stricture of friendly opposition meaning that they were surreptitiously hand in glove with the PPP and were merely putting up a mock show.

But that support and solidarity for PPP’s incumbent democratic dispensation was primarily not because of any love for PPP, but for blocking the military to grab power. That was and is still a laudable stance that in the longer run would stand in good stead for him and his party.

Of late, his political campaigning with direct attacks on Zardari and PPP government and to remove them through a concerted, unrelenting sit-ins, public rallies and processions is not to pave way for the army to step in but to discredit the government for its morbid performance and to protest against the pernicious conduct of the people in power.

It is a mission or movement for early elections. The PMLN’s realization and mobilizing the people though is belated. Yet it is for the sake of the country and against a coterie of thoroughly corrupt mafia that is outright incompetent, worthless and stampeding the supreme interests of Pakistan. Such a call is still not too late, as it is in accord with the aspirations of the people of Pakistan.

One of the most outstanding and commendably recognized achievements of Nawaz Sharif has been the nuclear explosions conducted in response to those of India. It is largely a consensus opinion that while Zulfikar Ali Bhutto should be given absolute credit for initiating the Pakistan’s nuclear program, Nawaz Sharif is entitled to an abiding national gratitude for conducting the nuclear detonations.

Nawaz Sharif or his family did not opt for exile or were forced to seek refuge in foreign lands because of criminal activities, embezzlement or looting national exchequer or for corruption. He made a hasty and whimsical decision to remove the then COAS Pervez Musharraf and replace him with a pliant person. This puerile decision and the immature way it was executed backfired and his luck ran out.

But a redeemed person would be more straight and honest because he has learnt the lesson to be upright after a great deal of hardship. That analogy is so relevant in the case of Nawaz Sharif. If he still persists in his temperamental weaknesses and wayward idiosyncrasies, he would face a double jeopardy and might become irrelevant and oblivious on the national political stage.

Nevertheless, in case of nuclear explosions he has proven himself to be a man of action. Besides, he is indeed a son of soil and his roots are here and inextricably linked to this land where he was born.

The PMLN and the PPP (P) are two grandiose parties of national stature. All other parties are fringe and wear regional, sectarian or ethnic headgear. The ANP is confined to Pakhtunkhwa province and that too only within the confines of the Pushto speaking part. It does not have a national or countrywide appeal.

The MQM has its hold on a part of Sindh province and therefore its constituency is limited and despite its latest overtures to expand its sphere, it has not been able so far to extend its tentacles to the entire country. It is an ethnic party that is primarily confined to the Urdu speaking population.

The PTI (Pakistan Tehrik-i-Insaf) is a budding political outfit that is on the march of eliciting support of the people on a countrywide basis. But notwithstanding the sizable presence of the crowds in Imran Khan public meetings, it has to go a long way before it would be able to emerge as a party with massive support all over Pakistan.

The PTI would find it difficult to beat the traditional parties and cannot muster enough seats in the parliament to capture power or even to be reckoned as a credible political force. The PPP’s constituency and support is dwindling although it might turn out to be runner up in the national elections.

If the anti government rallies and pickets (dharnas) make a headway and the PMLN keeps it tempo and momentum in high gear, then there is every likelihood that the sitting government is forced to call for midterm elections. Since due to its extremely intolerable and abysmal governance the incumbent government is at its nadir of unpopularity, the people are expected to throng to the marches and rallies of the PMLN in large numbers.

The people might join the PMLN’s anti- government drive not for the love of this party. They would do so because of the huge frustration and prodigious disgust they have developed against the government for a variety of reasons such as poor and sleazy governance, mismanagement, besides indulgence in rampant corruption and gross insensitivity to the people’s woes.

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