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Tumultuous Pakistan

 Editorial |  2018-07-13 16:53:33.0

Tumultuous Pakistan

Ahead of the general elections on 25 July, Pakistan is witnessing political upheavals of enormous proportions. First, the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) leader Nawaz Sharif and his daughter, who is widely believed to be his political heir, have been sentenced to imprisonment by an accountability court. They are expected to be arrested on their return to Lahore from London on Friday evening. Nawaz Sharif has been sentenced to 10 years and his daughter 7 years of imprisonment in the Panama Papers leak case. As per the latest opinion polls, PML-N, which enjoyed a clear lead over the rivals in the past months, seems to be losing ground to Imran Khan's Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI). Before the latest round of political and legal setbacks, Nawaz Sharif has survived a military coup, jail term and exile to become Pakistan's Prime Minister for the third time in June 2013. He was forced to resign as the Prime Minister in July 2017 after Pakistan's Supreme Court disqualified him from holding the post. In recent public meetings, Nawaz Sharif has lashed out at the military and the security establishment including ISI for deposing him through the courts for his policy to win peace with India and his efforts to try former army chief Pervez Musharraf for treason. Even as Nawaz Sharif and his daughter face arrest on their arrival on Friday, they have recourse to two stages of appeal — in the Islamabad High Court and in the Supreme Court. The Sharif family believes that it has sincerely worked for the common man by delivering on "development". They believe that the voters would acknowledge the achievements of the PML government in ensuring an end to power-cuts ended, keeping the economy afloat and massive investment in building road networks. But after the court verdict that sends Nawaz Sharif and his daughter Maryam Nawaz to imprisonment, PML (N) leaders are on the edge and they have reportedly refused to contest the election on PML (N) tickets. A large number of these leaders are contesting the election as independents. The change in fortune for the Nawaz Sharif family is not sudden and there are clear signs that the military and security establishment are working behind the scene to make things difficult for them by favouring Imran Khan and his party PTI, which is in power in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, one of the four states of Pakistan. Khan has been spearheading relentless protests and agitation against the PML (N) government for the last four years, charging the Sharif family of orchestrating large-scale corruption.

Even as Khan is inching closer to becoming the next prime minister of Pakistan, his ex-wife Reham Khan has come out with an autobiography that demystifies his larger than life image. Reham Khan who was married to Imran Khan for about 10 months reveals that Khan has been a skirt-chaser and a non-serious politician who does not believe in meeting the common man and working on their grievances. Khan has been obsessed with the idea to become the Prime Minister of the country and took little interest in the development of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, where his party is in power. When he entered politics in 1996, political analysts believed that he has little chance of a promising career in politics just on the basis of winning the cricket world cup in 1992 and setting up a cancer hospital in 1994. But over the years, his political fortune emerged stronger mostly because of the political instability in the country and lack of credible alternative after the death of Pakistan Political Party chief Benazir Bhutto in 2007. But instead of working with the people at the grassroots level to expand his support base, Khan chose to fight the government on the streets. The high rate of unemployment and gloomy economic scenario in the country drove thousands of people to his rallies and protests. In the process, Khan has had a flurry of court cases filed against him by the law enforcement agencies. So far, he has not shown due respect for the law of the land and he often misses court hearings and proceedings. Khan is contesting the July 25 general election from five constituencies and in the nomination paper, he has not acknowledged that he is the father of Tyrian White. All the court cases and the fact that he has deliberately given false information in the nomination paper can be used against him in the future by the powers that rule Pakistan from behind the scene. Reham Khan in her autobiography has pointed out these factors and writes that she had cautioned Imran to stay away from unscrupulous elements like ISI and the military officers, who interfere in the country's politics. Imran Khan may have to face the problems that Nawaz Sharif is facing right now, Reham Khan argues.

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