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News Analysis |

The beleaguered and deposed Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif recently hired services of one of the world’s most expensive U.S firm “Vin Roberti Global” to project his own ‘narrative’ in the world. This comes at a time when he and his family are in deep trouble owing to ongoing corruption references in courts after the Panama leaks in 2016.

One that the ruling party prioritizes the interest of the party over the country. The other is why Sharif wants to appeal to the US, given that he need not take votes from the American people

Well-placed sources said the payments to the firm are being made through civilian intelligence agencies. This in itself raises questions. Why are state funds are being used for the person of Nawaz. The Head of the Intelligence Bureau allegedly went to meet Nawaz in London. Nawaz held meeting with the representatives of the firm in London. It is believed that Nawaz has asked the firm to portray him as a “crusader” against anti-democratic forces in the country, by which he mainly refers to the army. Both he and his heir apparent, Maryam Nawaz, have repeatedly pointed fingers towards the ‘hidden force’ behind their troubles.

Since the initiation of the Panama Case and more so after the verdict, the N-League and its henchmen have asserted that the entire saga was an effort to punish Nawaz for being a Democrat. Maryam Nawaz has been on the forefront of propagating this viewpoint. Her latest tweet linked Nawaz’s likely appearance before NAB tomorrow to his surge against anti-democratic forces.

 

Read more: Survival Strategy: Nawaz Sharif files Review petitions with the Supreme Court

Given the fact that the Panama Case engulfed many world leaders and Nawaz, despite getting leeway for months to prove himself innocent has not been able to vindicate himself, the conspiracy story has gained little traction. It is reasonable to believe that Nawaz has hired the services to sell his narrative in Washington. This synchronizes well with the mounting US pressure on Pakistan to “do more” in line with its new South Asia policy. Washington has also ramped up its vitriol on the Pakistani military for its alleged support for terrorism.

Pakistan, as a country has lost dearly because of no lobbying. The US has rejected its narrative on Afghanistan and terrorism which has translated into simmering tensions between the two countries

Lobbyists are hired by countries to sell their narratives effectively. While Nawaz has hired one for himself, his government did not take the trouble of renewing the contract of the Pakistani lobbyist in the US. The last law firm to lobby for Pakistan in the US was Locke Lord Strategies; Pakistan failed to renew its contract with the firm in July 2013, about a month after the PML-N replaced PPP in the government in Islamabad. Islamabad was paying $750,000 to the firm per month.

Lobbying is an important part of the US political system. It is done on all issues, health, social, economic and domestic and foreign political issues. During the recent controversy in the Middle East, the Qataris are reputed to be spending over $1.3m per month and the Saudis over $6m per month on U.S. lobbyists.

If recent cold shouldering by Congress and the Trump Administration is anything to go by then Pakistan, as a country has lost dearly from its inability to have people in Washington explaining its case on a number of issues. The US has rejected its narrative on Afghanistan and terrorism which has translated into simmering tensions between the two countries. It was not even able to sell its sacrifices of men in the war on terror to the American policy makers. Moreover, the US designated Kashmiri groups as global terrorist organizations, a clear victory of the Indian narrative. While India has reaped the rewards of robust lobbying in the US, Pakistan has been found wanting.

Read more: Nawaz Sharif and the Supreme Court’s decision

It is reasonable to assert that Nawaz has hired the services to sell his narrative in Washington. This synchronizes well with the mounting US pressure on Pakistan to “do more” in line with its new South Asia policy

The lack of focus of the PML-N in this regard has raised two concerns.

One that the ruling party prioritizes the interest of the party over the country and even more so that of Nawaz himself above the party. The other is very disconcerting why is Sharif appealing to the US, given that he need not take votes from the American people, and was disqualified after all due course of law was implemented. It points out to an effort by him to evoke attention of the US administration to lend him succor against institutions whom he is lambasting. In this devils pact what will he offer in return?

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