Exit Nawaz Sharif

Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has been made to resign after the Supreme Court found him guilty in the money-laundering, wealth-concealment cases and in using a string of off-shore companies linked to the Sharif family to buy a number of luxury properties in London. The apex court of Pakistan has disqualified him for life from holding a public office. Sharif has kept up the tradition of no elected prime minister of Pakistan having ever completed his full term of office. Corruption allegations against Sharif date as far back as 1993 when investigations first began to look into thirteen specific allegations of corruption.
The Supreme Court’s order forcing Nawaz to resign as prime minister has the full support of the Pakistan army with whom Nawaz had all along had an uneasy relationship. As things stand now, his brother and former Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif is likely to succeed him after some time. He has first to get himself elected to the Parliament. For the present, the ruling PML (N) has to nominate an interim prime minister. One of the reasons of Nawaz Sharif’s undoing is believed to be his attempt to assert the independence of the civil government over the military which holds the actual levers of power. Sharif antagonized the army greatly when he ordered it to conclude the probe into the Pathankot air base attack and resume the inquiry into the Mumbai terror attacks and warned the brass-hats that Pakistan was facing growing international isolation for its perceived sponsoring of terrorism.
Nawaz, despite his occasional anti-India rants, seemed to be in favour of a peaceful relationship with India, much to the dislike of the army. Whoever becomes his successor will be more circumspect in antagonizing the army if he has to remain in power. As Pakistan’s relationship nosedives with Donald Trump’s USA and it gravitates more and more toward China, it may face internal problems also. The proposed China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) promises great prosperity for Pakistan but it involves a political cost. Pakistan will have to be more and more subservient to Beijing. Already, the possibility of Pakistan becoming a colony of China is being discussed by the people there in hushed tones. As the economic squeeze following Trump’s decision to drastically slash aid begins to have its effect on the economy, the army may have to deal with rising public discontent also. Nawaz Sharif has been thrown out of power but Pakistan’s problems – both short and long-term – persist.

Monday, 31 July, 2017