Ahad Tariq |
The world witnessed a smooth democratic transition in Pakistan’s Prime Minister Office when Shahid Khaqan Abbasi of Pakistan Muslim League (N) was sworn in as the new Prime Minister of Pakistan in an oath taking ceremony held at the President House on 1 August 2017. With Mr. Abbasi in office, the propaganda that there is a conspiracy of deposing the Prime Minister to pave way for undemocratic elements died in itself.
Former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and his associates have tried to create a fake perception over the years that undemocratic elements would come into power if Nawaz Sharif is removed from the office. The government party portrayed Nawaz Sharif as the face of democracy whereas, in reality, Mr. Sharif himself has always been the biggest threat to democracy.
Eventually, Nawaz Sharif was disqualified for life by the Supreme Court in a historic judgment on 28th July 2017. On 1st August, the new Prime Minister assumed office through a democratic transition.
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GHQ’s Punjabi Munda
Nawaz Sharif, who was introduced to politics by General Ghulam Jillani in the 1980s was trained and nourished as a politician under the dictatorial regime of General Zia ul Haq. The oath that Nawaz Sharif took at the grave of General Zia to take forward his mission, he still abides by it. His dictatorial polices are depicted in his politics whether in power or out of it.
For Nawaz Sharif, democracy is just a tool to come to power and nothing more than that. Whenever the government found itself in hot waters, they would try to take refuge in democracy. Mr. Sharif throughout his rule has never upheld democratic values. When asked for accountability of Model Town incident or asked to probe the alleged rigging of 2013 General Elections or when held for accountability for Panama Leaks, Mr. Sharif and his associates would start a campaign that there is a conspiracy against democracy and rather than coming out clean from the allegations, they would try to blackmail the opposition and the public in the name of democracy.
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The flag bearer of democracy has forgotten his past when he was made Chief Minister of Punjab under General Zia or when after the latter’s death he became part of the Islami Jamhoori Ittehad (IJI) and was taking money from the undemocratic forces to come into power. He has forgotten when he would buy loyalties at Changa Manga or when he would conspire against the democratic government of Benazir Bhutto and would go as far as seeking help from Osama Bin Laden.
Just after one year in power, it became clear with the incident of Model Town where the police were ordered to fire straight bullets at the protestors.
Despite his dark past, he was expected to be a changed man when he came back to Pakistan after living eight years in exile. After having suffered at the hands of a dictator, he was expected to have learned the value of democracy. All these expectations went down the drain once he came to power after the 2013 General elections. After coming to power he seemed to have forgotten everything and continued his dictatorial policies of the past. Nawaz Sharif, in reality, is a dictator in disguise.
Just after one year in power, it became clear with the incident of Model Town where the police were ordered to fire straight bullets at the protestors, that he has not changed. At least eleven protestors of Pakistan Awami Tehreek (PAT) were killed and over a hundred injured. The investigation report has not been made public till date. In no democracy, protestors are dealt with the way PML (N) led government dealt with them. No one from the power circles was held responsible for the massacre.
For Nawaz Sharif, democracy is just a tool to come to power and nothing more than that. Whenever the government found itself in hot waters, they would try to take refuge in democracy.
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He seemed to have forgotten his democratic values when the government attacked the protestors of Pakistan Tehreek e Insaf which included women and children with rubber bullets and tear gas simultaneously in front of the parliament during the 2014 ‘dharna’ (sit-in) led by Imran Khan.
Mr. Sharif didn’t talk about democracy when under his rule, young social media activists and bloggers were illegally arrested and harassed by the government agencies for several days. The former Prime Minister did not think about democracy when under his rule, a murderer from the ruling party Majeed Achackzai enjoyed VIP protocol in his jail cell in Quetta. Simultaneously, mice and scorpions were being put into the jail cell of Jamshed Dasti, a member of parliament from the opposition party, who was being beaten and tortured by the police for a petty crime of such nature which usually goes unaccounted for in our society.
Democracy as a “cover fire”
The government party portrayed Nawaz Sharif as the face of democracy whereas, in reality, Mr. Sharif himself has always been the biggest threat to democracy.
The government and its associates only remembered democracy when the government found itself in hot waters. When the opposition demanded the former PM’s resignation for his alleged involvement in the Model Town incident, involvement in the rigging of elections, involvement in Panama case or the Dawn Leaks, every time the government tried to create a perception that there is a conspiracy to remove Nawaz Sharif from power and derail the democratic process and the public should stand with the government to save democracy. Nawaz Sharif was portrayed as the only force who was stopping the way of undemocratic forces and if he is ousted from office democracy would derail. The people and institutions of the country rejected the narrative.
Read more: Enough with the VIP Protocols
Eventually, Nawaz Sharif was disqualified for life by the Supreme Court in a historic judgment on 28th July 2017. On 1st August, the new Prime Minister assumed office through a democratic transition. All the propagandas regarding the conspiracy have died. The larger than life portrayal of Nawaz Sharif has met its fate. Democracy has actually been strengthened with this transition. Nawaz is no more in power but democracy still prevails. It has been made clear that the institution of parliament is way larger than any individual.
Ahad Tariq is a political activist and an MPhil from the National Defense University.The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Global Village Space’s editorial policy.