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Thursday, May 23, 2024

The Sharifs and the Struggle for Justice: Unraveling the Political Chessboard

In the complex tapestry of Pakistan's political landscape, the Sharif family has been a central figure, marked by controversies and aspirations for justice. From Prime Minister Shahbaz Sharif's claims of victimization and unfair treatment against his brother Nawaz Sharif to the arrest of their stalwart Rana Sanaullah, the dynamics of power and alliances have played out in intriguing ways.

Prime Minister (PM) Shehbaz Sharif (SS) claims that Nawaz Sharif (NS) was victimized and treated unfairly. He alleges that during the 2018 elections, unfair tactics were employed to deny him victory. He also mentions the arrest of Rana Sanaullah, a prominent member of their party, which has been a recurring point of contention. During his recent trip to Gwadar, he pointed out that the port had not been dredged since NS last visited the operations in 2015. He believes that any wrongdoing should not go unpunished, and the aggrieved party must identify the perpetrators of the injustice committed against the Sharifs and their party members. If their memories have faded, he offers to help refresh them.

It was General Qamar Javed Bajwa, leading the establishment, who decided to expose the criminal activities of the sitting PM. NS was subsequently disqualified from holding public office during Bajwa’s regime, while his party continued to govern. Shahid Khaqan Abbassi became PM, and SS remained Chief Minister (CM) of Punjab, completing two uninterrupted terms in office (2008 to 2018). Despite being in power until 2018, the Gwadar port was neglected for three years by the government of their own party.

Rana Sanaullah’s arrest was carried out by the Anti-Narcotics Force (ANF), headed by a two-star General in uniform who reports directly to the COAS (Chief of Army Staff). To clarify, the Sharifs play the age-old game of ‘Good and Bad Cop,’ or in the words of Sheikh Rashid, SS plays on both sides of the wicket. Abdul Wali Khan, the leader of the opposition in the seventies, used the proverb, “Running with the hare and hunting with the hound.” That is what the Sharif brothers have been doing ever since they were discovered by General Zia, the deadliest usurper.

Read more: Aleeza Arshad, daughter of late Arshad Sharif, begins as TV reporter

Understanding the matter better

When General Zia perished after over eleven years of his misrule, the DG (Director General) ISI called three individuals for an interview to replace him: Ghulam Ishaq Khan (GIK), Nawabzada Nasrullah Khan, and Abdul Wali Khan were shortlisted for this position by the establishment. Wali Khan refused to appear before the DG, using strong words; “Lanat on the position for which I have to appear before a General.” GIK then became President with the nod of a Grade 21, three-star General. The Sharifs, on the other hand, were introduced by a Grade 22, four-star General. It was due to this superiority that NS clashed with GIK.

As a child of the Muslim League, I was told that Bacha Khan and his party were pro-India, but my late father, Nazir Ahmed Malik, always praised their principled politics. When I got the opportunity to interview Wali Khan for the university magazine, I was impressed by his intellect and straightforwardness. The Khans of Charshadda played a key role in the independence movement for which they were jailed many times, but they continued with their politics of resistance. Wali Khan lost one eye while serving a prison term. While the Muslim League stood for a strong center, they were in favor of provincial autonomy. Unlike the Sharifs, they never shook hands with the establishment and had to suffer the consequences.

It is widely believed that those who live by the gun die by the bullet, and the same is true for those who play with the hounds; they also get bitten by them. Wali Khan was very clear; he believed in standing up to them. In his own words, “We neither compromise nor run away.” Those who compromise and then run away have no credibility. NS decided to go after the fourth usurper, though he was allowed, under an agreement, to go into self-exile for ten years by the dictator. Why only Musharraf? Others should also have been included in the hit list. NS, after escaping from jail due to the efforts of General Bajwa, started to openly attack him from the safety of his London home. He blamed the Sipah-e-Salar for all the wrongs committed against him, but when his brother came into power, no action was taken against the intruder. The fifth manipulator escaped Article 6, courtesy of SS. Now that national elections are scheduled this year, the ‘Martyr Card’ has been used to gain sympathy.

In the checkered political history of the republic, only NS has managed to gain an absolute two-third majority, not once but twice. Out of the five governments that were dismissed under the Draconian Zia amendment 58(2b), only NS managed to regain power through the Supreme Court. He was allowed to leave the country while serving a jail term, perhaps the first in the history of Common Law. Somehow, every time the family manages to reclaim their confiscated assets.

Those who dare to stand as witnesses against them die mysteriously, and when they are accused of wrongdoing, the records catch fire. Almost all the property records of Lahore have been burnt. When Justice Sajjad Ali Shah tried to stand up against their wrongdoings, the Supreme Court came under attack in 1997, and soon the Chief Justice was out of a job. Comrade Tariq Aziz and Akhtar Rasool, the hockey legend, had to pay a heavy price for this misadventure. Finally, the good offices of Brother Judge Rafiq Tarrar, the grandfather of Atta Tarrar, the current MC (Master of Ceremonies), were used to pit the bench against the Chief.

Read more: Controversy Surrounds Shehbaz Sharif’s Umbrella Snatching Incident

In July 1977, when Zia, the founder of the Sharif Dynasty, toppled the elected government of Bhutto, it was called ‘Operation Fair Play.’ Elections were supposed to be held within the stipulated ninety days, but it turned out to be ‘Foul Play.’ His misrule continued for over eleven long years, ending only after his demise. The Sharifs are part of these ‘Foul Mechanisms’ against the constitution and the rule of law it envisages. For normalcy to return, the wrongs done to and by the Sharifs must be corrected. Trials under Article 6 should be initiated against the dictators who crossed the red line of the Constitution.

SS has a few more days before his term ends to initiate the legal process against the accused who tormented NS. The DG ANF, who signed the arrest warrants of Rana Sanaullah, should also be issued a Show Cause notice for this gross injustice. Everyone, including NS, is entitled to justice and fair play. NS must name his perpetrators and tormentors for this to happen. The hounds should not be spared this time; no one is in a better position to deal with them than the Sharifs of Gawalmandi. There is a saying, “Har Faroun Nira Musa” (Every Pharaoh had to deal with Moses).


The writer is Ex-Chairman Pakistan Science Foundation. He can be reached at  fmaliks@hotmail.com. The views expressed by the writers do not necessarily represent Global Village Space’s editorial policy.