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Thursday, February 15, 2024

Indian media celebrates Nawaz Sharif’s speeches, but what about Nawaz?

Indian media and officials naturally welcome anti-state narrative of Nawaz Sharif as it syncs with their position on Pakistan. However how it benefits Nawaz Sharif who wants his cases to end and his daughter, Maryam to become the PM of Pakistan? Nawaz's anti-Pakistan rhetoric can make sense only if one believes that Establishment and judiciary that have bailed him repeatedly will bail him and Maryam again? Is Nawaz succeeding?

Nawaz Sharif’s recent speeches have been celebrated by Indian media. It makes sense as Nawaz’s rhetoric fits in well with Indian establishment’s position on Pakistan and its institutions. But how Nawaz intends to benefit from all this is a puzzle.

After Gujranwala’s video link speech from the safety of London, Nawaz could not speak at the Karachi rally of Oct 18. It is believed that PPP – after hearing Nawaz’s anti-state narrative in Gujranwala – was not prepared to take responsibility for promoting his anti-state narrative in Karachi. However Nawaz again spoke at the Quetta where Mahmood Khan Achakzai, leader of a small Pashtun faction in Baluchistan condemned the western fence Pakistan has constructed on its 2600 km long border with Afghanistan. Fence was long a demand from ISAF forces to control cross-border attacks and Pakistan had to manage huge funds for constructing this.

Ex-Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s speech in Quetta, was again filled with vitriolic comments against state institutions. Indian media and political spokespersons naturally welcomed Nawaz’s speech as he blamed Pakistan for all that has gone wrong between India and Pakistan over the past 25 years – including Kargill and Mumbai terrorism. Nawaz spoke through a video link from London.

He said, “these generals, who were behind the Kargil war, were also the ones who plotted a coup on October 12, 1999 and declared martial law to hide their actions and escape punishment”.

Establishment accommodates Nawaz Sharif repeatedly? 

Indian media repeatedly played Nawaz’s video and maintained that the armed forces of Pakistan had an expansionist plan to capture the Indian Territory. “Nawaz Sharif has finally exposed his country’s army and its ambitions,” the media reports claimed.

Recent statements by PMLN leaders – like Khakkan Abbasi – on tv programs hint that Nawaz may now be thinking of striking another deal with Establishment. No political leader in Pakistan’s history has been more pampered by Establishment and judiciary than Nawaz. Many leaders – including ZA Bhutto and Imran Khan- have been blamed for being supported by army establishment, but the fact remains that none was a creation of military.

Nawaz had no history or identity in Pakistan before being picked up by Gen. Zia and Gen. Jillani in early 1980’s. And over the past 30 years he struck repeated deals with military establishment and found relief again and again from courts. In 1993, his government dismissed by President Ishaq was brought back by Supreme Court while Benazir Govt earlier dismissed on similar charges was not given reprieve by the court. In 2009, Nawaz was given right of appeal by Supreme Court in a “Plane Hijacking Case” in which he had not appealed almost 8 years ago. Appeal period is usually 30 or 60 days, but Nawaz had struck a deal with Musharraf – through US President Clinton – to spend time in a palace in Saudi Arabia. He never appealed; later back in Pakistan he took the position that hew was forcibly exiled by Gen. Musharraf.

Since Pakistani courts have always accepted his changing positions, it is possible that Nawaz thinks that he can once again put military establishment and courts under pressure by his rhetoric and then extract concessions for his daughter, Maryam Nawaz, who he wants to be the future prime minister.

At times people have wondered that Nawaz keeps on getting concessions from military establishment and judiciary because he is from Punjab and the military and judiciary also draw their ranks predominantly from Punjab, this has allowed Nawaz to develop deep inroads into the system and this support system springs into action to bail him out of trouble. What else will explain the way he landed in London despite being a convicted person on dubious health grounds? Many in politics wonder that how and why Nawaz and family are continuously being given deals and concessions by the establishment.

Fayyaz-ul-Hassan Chohan, Punjab Information Minister, has said Nawaz Sharif, in Quetta, spoke Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Security Advisor Ajit Doval, and notorious influencer Major Gaurav Arya’s language. However these often repeated statements may to solve the puzzle of what Nawaz is up to.

India’s hybrid warfare against Pakistan

India is accused of using hybrid warfare as a tool to weaken Pakistan and demonise it before the world. In this regard, there has been a sufficient amount of evidence in international media. However, Pakistan’s academics and media have not fully reported on it.

By definition, hybrid warfare is a military strategy that employs political warfare and blends conventional warfare, irregular warfare, and cyberwarfare with other influencing methods, such as fake news, diplomacy, lawfare, and foreign electoral intervention.

In hybrid warfare, the narrative of the local leaders is presented as legitimate and fair if it stands in line with that those of the external actors. Politicians play in the hands of the enemies knowingly or unknowingly, experts argue. However it still does not explain Nawaz’s conduct unless he is sure that he will get concessions again as a result of his rhetoric?

Nawaz’s often repeated position on Mumbai terrorism?

Two years ago, ousted Prime Minister and former head of the PML-N, Nawaz Sharif, first made his ‘irresponsible’ and ‘controversial’ remarks on Mumbai attacks. This was immediately after he lost his power after court decision. Sharif was alluding to the 2008 Mumbai attacks when more than 150 people were killed and more than 300 were wounded. Indian media and authorities had immediately blamed Pakistan for the brutal attack.

Read more: Indian Propaganda on Kartarpur is Threat to South Asia’s Peace

Nawaz Sharif was referring to the recent media campaigns led by Indian and Western media against Pakistan to isolate it. Pakistan has been under the constant pressure of the United States to follow the policy of ‘do more’ in Afghanistan.

Sharif got widespread media coverage in India after his interview on the Mumbai attacks.

Mumbai attacks: Who benefited?

While Pakistani based militants – like the banned Lashkar-e-Tayyaba – were blamed for the Mumbai terrorism, its not clear how Pakistani state or institutions could have benefitted from this terrorism. Over the past 12 years, Mumbai has served India well in isolating Pakistan and putting pressure upon it at all international forums.

If Mumbai attacks and their causes and masterminds are to be understood and identified, there needs to be asked a fundamental question; who benefits?

In the wake of the Mumbai attacks, argues Elias Davidsson, German investigative author, India managed to get some advantages/outcomes it wished for. Pakistan, on the other hand, paid a heavy price and is still paying. “Mumbai terrorism benefitted Indian institutions (Defense budget hiked by 21% immediately) and helped India, US, UK, and Israel come together and strengthened right-wing Hindutva politics in India makes lots of historical sense,” wrote Dr. Moeed Pirzada while reviewing Elias Davidsson’s book, The Betrayal of India: Revisiting the 26/11 Evidence.

Read more: Indian Media’s Obsession with Pakistan Army Continues to Grow

Many observers point that Pakistan earned a bad name, was blamed by India, bashed by the international community, and snubbed by the US. It could be asked why would Pakistan engage in an act that would come back to haunt it? The nature of Mumbai terrorism at best remains a mystery.