Monday, October 8, 2018

Shahbaz Sharif’s Arrest is Politically Motivated Witch-Hunting

October 8, 2018
 By Saeed Qureshi
The Accountability Court (AC) on the request of NAB (National Accountability Bureau) sent Shahbaz Sharif, the former Punjab Chief Minister, the current president of PMLN (Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz) and the opposition leader in the National Assembly on a 10-day physical remand for misuse of power, corruption and nepotism displayed in the award of construction contracts to his favorite parties. It seemed to be a sudden hoax by NAB against Shahbaz Sharif. There seems to be more characters behind than what meets the eye for such an action.   
It might turn out to be a tall order for the sitting PTI’s federal government as well as the NAB (National Accountability Bureau) to justify the untimely, unbelievably imprudent and hasty arrest of Mian Shahbaz Sharif who as stated above is the president of the PMLN, the former Chief Minister of Punjab: the largest province of Pakistan and the opposition leader in the National Assembly.
If PPPP and PMNL join hands in the National Assembly, the PTI may turn as the minority party.
 Also, one may Imagine as to what would happen if the two parties return the same treatment to the PTI by initiating corruption and similar baneful allegations against Imran Khan and other PTI stalwarts. It would therefore, be advisable and prudent if the unproven corruption cases against the well-established rival politicians such as Shahbaz Sharif are withdrawn in a spirit of accommodation and reconciliation for serving the nation and the country.
It may happen as well that the PPPP and the PMLN jointly launch a no-cooperation countrywide movement, take out processions and hold dharnas like the PTI and Imran Khan has been doing. That mayhem and fiasco might impel the army to step in and take up the reins of power which means imposing the martial law. The country would drift back to square one for a few years and as along the military rule can remain in place.
It would have been much better if the PTI government had done its homework by preparing the solid evidence and incontrovertible proof of the arrest of the top leader of the PMLN. That would have helped the Accountability Court and the NAB (the National Accountability Bureau) to explore, investigate and compile solid evidence and the reasons for Shahbaz’s sudden arrest.
The evidence that has been cited for the arrest of top PMLN leader is flimsy and far from being convincing. Apparently behind Shahbaz’s arrest there seems to be the political vendetta and urge to remove a powerful rival politician and Chief Minister of the largest province of Pakistan. In better times an investigation should be mounted as to why AC and NAB chose a stalwart of PMNL and no one other at this juncture.  
The arrest of Shahbaz Sharif by NAB comes as a follow-up of the grueling treatment meted out to his elder brother Mian Nawaz Sharif now incarcerated along with his daughter in jail for alleged financial malpractices one of which is the hoarding of wealth in the foreign banks.
The elder brother lost his premiership of the country while the younger was deprived of his chief ministerial status of the biggest province of Pakistan. With Shahbaz the accusations and allegations inter-alia are about awarding contracts to his favorite builders and close friends. He was summoned to the court for other reasons but was sent to NAB for indulgence in corruption and nepotism causing huge financial loss to the national exchequer. This looks fishy and preplanned.
While corruption is a huge issue in Pakistan, it is not only the Sharif family to be accused of this crime but hundreds if not thousands are milking and fleecing the national wealth by devious and uncalled means. The case of Shahbaz Sharif seems to be a political ploy to remove him from a powerful position and to deprive the PMNL from ruling a most prosperous province. This was the second lethal blow to PMLN after the incarceration of Nawaz Sharif and initiating several cases of corruption and money laundering against the entire family including the two sons of Nawaz Sharif now living in London.
Had the drive against the corruption was initiated without discrimination and not in pick and choose style, it would have been welcomed by the people of Pakistan. Evidently it emits an impression that these moves are aimed at demolishing the Sharif family leadership besides crippling the PMNL as a strong political combatant and rival of the PTI.
The PTI leadership and the government wants to remain at the helm for the stipulated period of five years with Imran Khan as the prime minister. The main hurdle in this goal is the PMNL government which though has been thoroughly debilitated politically and operationally thus far by the government agencies like NAB and Accountability Courts
The main and most compelling factor behind the disqualification of Sharif family is to deprive them of their political clout. The other most strident factor is to punish the culprits of the Model Town carnage with several deaths. But that carnage and killing, somehow, can be attributed to Allama Tahirul Qadri who came all the way to Pakistan despite being the Canadian citizen and start campaigning for Islamic rule and removal of the Punjab government under Sharif family.  
For that grave incident, it should have been Allama Qadri who should be held responsible. He wanted to create a law and order situation by launching an Islamic movement which had insidious motives to subvert the provincial government in Punjab and pave way for Imran Khan to step in and be accepted by the people. The Dharnas (sit in) jointly sponsored and held by Imran Khan and Tahirul Qadri were aimed at paralyzing the political system and remove the sitting PMNL governments both in Punjab and at the center.  That ploy didn’t work at that time but ultimately that proved to be fruitful and thus transferring of power from PMNL to PTI at the federal level via 2018 general elections.  
Yet the motivation of removing the Sharif family’s leadership in Punjab province remained unattained. That goal has been attained with the arrest of Shahbaz Sharif by NAB against the charges of favoritism, corruption and misuse of power. The PPPP senior leader Khursheed Shah on Friday termed the arrest of Leader of the Opposition in National Assembly Shahbaz Sharif as the contempt of parliament.

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