News Analysis |
While speaking outside the accountability court on Monday, Nawaz Sharif mentioned that his party, the Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz (PML-N), was the sole reason behind fulfilling its tenure.
With the caretaker government officially sworn in, the deposed Prime Minister lauded his party’s efforts in successfully completing its tenure. Despite charges of corruption and disagreements with the military as well as the judiciary; economic and security markers have registered positively by 2018.
Beginning in 2013, this year’s elections will mark the completion of PML-N’s third government in history. Although thrice elected, the former PM has failed to maintain his position each time, with the final ouster due to a corruptions probe being mediated by a judicially appointed committee.
When asked about the prevalent power crisis, the response was, “When we left, everything in the country was fine”. The PML-N government, which completed its constitutional tenure on May 31, had generated surplus electricity and initiated 39 development projects, he added.
Known for his affinity towards construction projects, his establishment of metro bus systems and motorways, Nawaz added ‘he had hoped to inaugurate motorways in Lahore, Multan and Sukkur as well.’ “Did anyone else build motorways?” he remarked rhetorically.
“Victory is the future of my statements. There is no other option than victory,” Nawaz also remarked.
Viewed as reinforcing earlier claims and declarations, Nawaz credited his party for being the only party to have worked for the people, “The performance of all others parties is next to none.”
The successful transition of power from the outgoing government to the caretaker government, which will be responsible for elections, was met by optimism from all sides. Remarks regarding the successful completion of the tenure were echoed by the Chief Minister and the current party leader Shehbaz Sharif, among other officials.
Baligh-ur-Rehman, Minister for Federal Education and Professional Training, saw the completion of the tenure, despite all odds as a “very good omen”. He praised the National Action Plan bringing all stakeholders on to the same page. Pakistan holds a candle to its economic success by overcoming its energy shortage by constructing LNG terminals in relatively short time as well as raising the GDP growth rate to 5.28 %.
Mehmood Bashir Virk, Minister for Law and Justice, pointed out the elements of hindrances in the democratic system which the PML-N leadership overcame while upholding its services to the Pakistani people. He also lamented the time and opportunity lost by the government due to these hurdles.
Another party leader, Ch. Jaffar Iqbal mentioned the country’s struggle against extremism, insurgency and terrorism. By successfully eradicating these menaces, Pakistan came out in a far better position since 2013. He commended the efforts of the armed forces, security agencies and political leadership being united on that front.
Such exuberant reactions are not unwarranted as it is only the second time in Pakistani history that a democratically elected political party has completed a five-year tenure. In a consensus reached between the ruling and opposition party, retired Justice Nasirul Mulk was elected to the seat of the caretaker Prime Minister. Upon the shoulders of the caretaker government, the expectations of smooth and transparent elections been placed.
Senator Faisal Javed of PTI appreciated the caretaker PM’s good reputation and his past hearing on election rigging yielded over 40 findings. Being familiar to electoral fraud, he was the man of the hour rising to meet the challenge of ensuring free and fair elections.
Major General Asif Ghafoor, Director General for Inter-Services Public Relations, also voiced the army’s approval of the power transition as a milestone in political development in Pakistan’s 70-year history. “There is nobody else happier than the army over the completion of the Parliament and government’s tenure,” Ghafoor clarified.
When the PML-N government came into power, its largest challenges were an energy crisis and the destabilizing presence of terrorism and extremism.
Economic indicators showed marked improvements as Pakistan received a massive foreign investment from China as part of the One Road One Belt (OBOR) initiative. OBOR’s flagship project is the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) for which financial and strategic cooperation was the forte of policy-making between the two Asian countries. Additionally, a revamped foreign policy led to Pakistan’s membership in the Shanghai Cooperation Organization as well as strengthening regional ties with Russia.
The PML-N’s latest decision for a FATA-KPK merger has also been lauded by observers. However, without representatives within FATA, the KPK assembly cannot be completed for these current elections. Other PML-N boasts include the construction of motorways, but that comes easy when the party leadership owns a string of cement, steel and construction firms. Furthermore, while in power the PML-N party and even its followers held a disdain for the military who in turn bore the brunt of the country’s successful anti-terrorism offensive.
While the election of a caretaker government bodes well for the future of democracy, the overly zealous efforts on part of PML-N to take credit for completing its tenure and the development that took place is sweeping under the rug its failed promises and shoddy governance. Nonetheless, it is a commendable feat with which a struggling nation comes together to preserve institutional democracy.